Recode reported on February 26, 2021, that Chanin Kelly-Rae, who began her role as the global manager of diversity in Amazon’s cloud computing division in 2019, left the company in less than a year. Despite her two decades of experience in leading diversity and inclusion efforts, Kelly-Rae’s tenure at Amazon left her convinced of systemic issues disadvantaging Black employees and those from other underrepresented backgrounds.
In 2020, Cindy Warner joined the corporate staff at Amazon Web Services (AWS), bringing with her over 30 years of executive experience in the tech industry. Initially recruited heavily by AWS, she anticipated being part of a changing culture with increased diversity, with opportunities presented for high-level positions within the company.
Amazon had pledged to provide its workers with two weeks of paid sick leave if they tested positive or were in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, several Amazon employees, as reported by CNBC on April 6, revealed that they either received no pay or only 60% of their average weekly paycheck despite meeting the eligibility criteria for paid sick leave. This failure to adhere to their own policies has led many Amazon workers to apply for unemployment benefits to bridge the income gaps.
An Amazon employee from the Shakopee, Minnesota facility, Hibaq Mohamed, has accused the company of retaliation for her outspokenness about its labor practices. This revelation comes amidst a lawsuit filed by Amazon workers in June, urging the company to cease penalizing employees for taking time off tasks during the ongoing pandemic.
As Amazon removes advertisements for union-busting roles, workers reveal a chaotic and unsafe work environment marked by bullying and abuse. These grievances appear to be just the tip of the iceberg, as employees from various departments echo similar concerns, including stress, managerial mistreatment, internal threats among workers, unaddressed complaints, discrimination, and inadequate security measures.
According to Labor Law Section 200, all worksites must provide reasonable and adequate protection for the lives, health, and safety of employees. Furthermore, Labor Law Section 191 specifies the frequency of employee payments, particularly for manual workers. Amazon has faced legal challenges related to workplace safety, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The New York Times reported on June 15, 2021, that Amazon’s JFK8, New York City’s sole fulfillment center, faced unique challenges and successes during the COVID-19 pandemic, shedding light on the tech giant’s innovative workforce management strategies and the hurdles in ensuring employee welfare.
“Amazonians United is a movement of workers fighting to end management’s domination in our workplaces. We organize with our coworkers to fight together for the dignified lives we all deserve. We build community at our workplaces, look out for each other and collectively fight for things like higher pay, safety, fairness and respect. We’re stronger together, so we create worker organization at our sites with coworkers who are fed up with the bullshit and want to do something about it. “
In the wake of the devastating tornado that struck an Amazon warehouse in Illinois on December 10, 2021, resulting in the death of six workers, legal actions are unfolding against the tech giant. As reported by Insider on January 22, the family of one victim, Austin McEwen, is suing Amazon, alleging that the warehouse was inadequately secured to the ground, contributing to the collapse.
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.