• Protesters demanded better pay, healthcare and COVID-19 reforms during Sunday's march
  • The protest was led by a former employee who was fired for organizing a work protest
  • Amazon said it already provides what the protesters were asking for during the rally

A week before Amazon’s annual Prime Day Sale, a group of activists championing labor and environmental issues marched in Beverly Hills toward founder Jeff Bezos’ mansion, lobbying for higher wages and COVID-19 reforms.

Demonstrators gathered Sunday afternoon at Will Rogers Memorial Park on Sunset Boulevard and raised demands aimed not just at Amazon, but also the U.S. government.

The protesters called for Amazon to be "transparent and honest about the number of (COVID-19) cases they have in their facilities," NBC reported. Amazon on Thursday revealed about 19,800 of its employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of March.

The marchers also called for professional sanitization and a total shutdown of Amazon locations, which have had a high number of cases for at least two weeks, with full pay for the employees.

The activists also demanded an additional hazard pay of $2 per hour, paid leaves for employees with confirmed positive results, and free child care and healthcare in the Amazon facilities.

The rally was organized by The Congress of Essential Workers (TCOEW) and a former Amazon employee, Chris Smalls, who had been fired from the company in March “for violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk”, NBC reported.

Smalls, who was employed in Staten Island, N.Y., had staged a protest in the company warehouse to demand better protective gear for the employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sunday event was joined by climate activist groups Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion.

In a statement, TCOEW demanded Bezos and other billionaires pay their share for the climate crisis. “We are calling for a decent living wage of $30 per hour for all Amazon employees and right to unionize without fear of retaliation,” the group said, adding billionaires like Bezos “who makes $4,000 per second” can help resolve such issues.

However, Maria Boschetti, an Amazon spokesperson, said the company already offers what the union is requesting. "Industry-leading pay, a variety of benefits packages and opportunities for career growth, all in a safe, modern work environment" are offered to the employees, she told City News Service.

“We encourage anyone to compare our overall pay, benefits and work environment to other retailers and major employers in the country,” she added.

On its website, Amazon details the steps it is taking for its employees, which includes a bonus worth $500 million for all front-line workers, enhanced social distancing measures, distribution of protective gear and two weeks paid leave for workers diagnosed with COVID-19.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saw his wealth grow by a third during the COVID-19 lockdowns
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saw his wealth grow by a third during the COVID-19 lockdowns AFP / SAUL LOEB