Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 18 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

The Privileged and Powerful in the Pandemic

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   No comments
Author 47089
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Robert Reich
Become a Fan
  (129 fans)

From Robert Reich Blog

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos
Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos
(
Image by YouTube, Channel: Tech Insider)   Details   DMCA

As America reopens for business, you might expect Jeff Bezos, the richest man in America, and his Amazon corporation, one of the most profitable corporations in America, to set the corporate standard for how to protect the health of American workers.

Think again.

Amazon's warehouses have become Covid-19 hot spots, yet Amazon has repeatedly fired workers who sound the alarm -- including, just recently, a warehouse worker in Minnesota who spoke out against unsafe conditions, and, earlier in the pandemic, a worker who led a walkout Amazon's huge JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island after several employees tested positive for Covid-19.

A few weeks ago, Amazon fired two white-collar employees after they criticized the company's treatment of warehouse workers. I talked with one of them, Maren Costa, at a virtual rally. (The event didn't come off quite as planned. After thousands of employees had RSVPed, Amazon deleted all invitations and emails regarding the event, according to organizers.)

"Why is Amazon so scared of workers talking with each other?" Costa wondered. "We're all in this together. No company should punish their employees for showing concern for one another, especially during a pandemic."

At Amazon's AVP1 fulfillment center near Hazleton, Pennsylvania -- under federal investigation because of an early spike in cases -- workers say Amazon stopped sharing information about Covid-19 cases, so they started their own unofficial tally, which at last count was 64 and rising.

"Plain truth: No one cares about us," one of them told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Another pointed to lack of enforcement of health and safety regulations. "Believe me -- we've complained and complained and complained," the worker said.

Only recently did Amazon start offering two weeks' paid sick leave to workers afflicted with the virus, but some sick workers say they've had trouble collecting their pay despite the new policy.

The company now says anyone who doesn't return to work will be terminated, and it's about to eliminate an extra $2 per hour hazard pay it had given warehouse workers.

Why has Bezos and set the bar so low for the rest of corporate America? It can't be the cost. Amazon can afford the highest safety standards in the world. Last quarter, its revenue surged 26 percent and its profits soared to $75.5 billion. Since March, Jeff Bezos' net worth has jumped $24 billion.

So, what is it? Perhaps the arrogance and indifference that comes with extraordinary power.

Consider billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who last week reopened his Tesla plant despite county public-health orders to keep it shut. After Musk threatened to sue the county and move the factory and jobs to another state, officials finally caved.

Tesla promptly notified workers that "Once you are called back, you will no longer be on furlough so if you choose not to work, it may impact your unemployment benefits."

So Tesla workers are now being forced to choose between their livelihoods or, possibly, their lives. Musk says his factory is safe, but a worker who returned to the production line told the New York Times that little has changed, and "it's hard to avoid coming within six feet of others."

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

 

Rate It | View Ratings

Robert Reich Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Trump Cornered

The Republican's Big Lies About Jobs (And Why Obama Must Repudiate Them)

Paul Ryan Still Doesn't Get It

What Mitt Romney Really Represents

What to Do About Disloyal Corporations

The Gas Wars

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: