Following the devastating collapse of an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, where six workers lost their lives during a tornado, hundreds of Amazon employees across the Mid-Atlantic are rallying for policy changes. The demands include the right to keep their cellphones with them during shifts and the implementation of an inclement weather policy to ensure workers’ safety.
As Vice reported on December 20, 2021, workers are advocating for compensation for canceled shifts due to severe weather and the exoneration of absences during school closures caused by extreme weather conditions, with the request for 80% salary payment during such circumstances.
The petition highlights the risks faced by commuting workers during floods, snow, ice, and heavy storms. It criticizes Amazon for waiting until workers arrive at the facility to cancel shifts, leaving employees without pay. Additionally, employees are calling for the right to keep their phones with them during shifts to stay in contact with loved ones during emergencies.
Warehouse workers at six Amazon facilities around New York City and Washington, D.C., have submitted petitions to their managers. However, at least two managers reportedly refused to accept the documents. Despite this, organizers claim that around 500 workers have signed the petition.
Amazon spokesperson Barbara Agrait emphasized the company’s commitment to employee safety, stating that they closely monitor weather events and follow guidance from authorities to make informed decisions on facility closures. She also mentioned that Amazon’s mobile phone policy allowing phones in work areas for emergency use remains in effect.
The petition delivery faced resistance, with workers recounting their experiences. Crystal Campuzano, an Amazon warehouse worker in Long Island City, Queens, highlighted the importance of having a cellphone, stating that it played a crucial role in caring for her mother during an emergency.
Workers are pushing for an inclement weather policy that includes advance text message notifications of canceled shifts and compensation for transportation home for workers without cars when shifts are canceled within two hours of the start time. Other demands include a permanent $3 an hour raise at delivery stations, an appeals process for terminations, and the reinstatement of 20-minute breaks.
The Amazonians United coalition organized the petitions, with workers from various warehouses participating. The six Amazon facilities that signed the petition include DBK1 in Woodside, Queens; DNJ3 in the Bronx; DYO2 in the Bronx; ZYO1 in Long Island City, Queens; DEW8 in Bellmawr, New Jersey; and DMD9 in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Despite challenges in delivering the petition, workers are united in their efforts to bring attention to the need for improved working conditions and policies within Amazon warehouses.
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