Amazon employees held a pair of demonstrations outside the company’s Little Village distribution center Friday and Saturday, sparked by an automated text message from the company informing them that a second colleague tested positive for the coronavirus.
The workers, known as DCH1 Amazonians United, say the world’s largest online retailer put them at risk for catching the virus by making them work in unsafe and exploitative conditions at DCH1, the warehouse at 2801 S. Western Ave.
A Facebook Live video of Saturday’s protest shows vehicles honking their horns in support of the workers, who shouted slogans like “shut it down, clean it up,” and blocking delivery vans attempting to leave the warehouse.
An awesome surprise! #PrimeMemberCaravan #PrimeMemberSolidarity and #CommunitySolidarity with Amazon DCH1 Workers on Safety Strike!
Us Amazon DCH1 workers went on Safety Strike for the fourth time this week, demanding that Amazon shut DCH1 down for 14 days, with pay for ALL workers. This is a fight for our lives, we're not playin. Many coworkers who were going into work decided to join the strike instead! We were standing in front of our facility, chanting and with our signs, then management came out and threatened us. We tried talking to them about our concerns, but they would just continue threatening us and ignoring our voices. Then, all of a sudden, over 50 cars started rollin thru in front of Amazon! We didn't know what was going on then we saw they were driving through in solidarity with us! It was like a huge caravan driving up and down the street, honking and in support of our Safety Strike. Some of the signs they had was #PrimememberCaravan #PrimeMemberSolidarity and #CommunitySolidarity amongst many other pro-worker signs, supportive of our demands and our lives. There were also many signs against Jeff Bezos and calling for an end to capitalism! Amazon called the cops and they came real quick and started harassing all the drivers of these cars, threatening them with tickets and banging on their windows. We saw real clearly today that police were there to protect Amazon managment and Amazon's profits. But Alderman Byron Sigcho Lopez for the 25th Ward / Alderman Byron Sigcho Lopez 25th Ward Office and his powerful wife Loreen Targos stood there right alongside us, in full support of our demands, and they definitely made the police chill as much as they could cuz the cops were trying to give everyone tickets. Other Alderman and politicians should take notes. We appreciate your solidarity from the bottom of our hearts Byron and Loreen!! Management was tryna hurry and send the Amazon vans out, but Amazon drivers couldn't exit Amazon to start their deliveries cuz the street was so full of cars! Our managers, who wouldn't even look at our demands or hear our concerns, came out and started telling the police what to do, as if the police were a part of Amazon management, and the police obeyed. Amazon drivers, stuck in the driveway, came out of their vans and they were in complete support of our safety strike. Many Amazon drivers hadn't even been told by management that there are now multiple confirmed positive coronavirus cases at DCH1. They were angered to hear that their health was being endangered too, and we told them we're demanding a shut down for 2 weeks with pay for us all, including drivers! Drivers are hired through independent contractors, but Amazon does that purposefully so that they could exploit the drivers more easily. We are demanding that DCH1 shut down and pay us all for 2 weeks of quarantine, including the drivers, the cleaning crew, and all the workers that make Amazon run. This is just the beginning, we won't back down, workers everywhere are rising up, and the community is self-organizing and coming through in solidarity! Our movement grows, solidarity grows, international worker power grows!Posted by DCH1 Amazonians United on Saturday, April 4, 2020
“There’s folks coming in crying, being put in situations where they have to put themselves and their vulnerable family members at risk,” said Christian Zamarron, a 30-year-old Pilsen man who has worked at DCH1 for nearly three years.
He said Amazon offered employees unlimited unpaid time off through April.
“We can’t just keep staying at home, we have bills to pay, so it’s like we got to take action here,” Zamarron said.
On Sunday, Amazon began “temperature checks at select sites around the U.S. in an effort to ensure that employees and support staff are healthy when they arrive at work. Anyone registering a temperature over the CDC-recommended 100.4F will be asked to return home and only come back to work after they’ve gone three days without a fever. We are now temperature checking more than 100,000 employees per day. The complete rollout of temperature checks across our entire U.S. operations network is expected by early next week, at which point we will be testing hundreds of thousands of people daily,” said an Amazon spokesperson.
The group staged their first demonstration March 30 after allegedly learning a co-worker tested positive for COVID-19 over a week after the results came in and tried to present management with a petition for coronavirus protections. It was refused, Zamarron said.
The next day they sent it to DCH1 site leader Domonic Wilkerson. The petition includes shutting down the warehouse for two weeks — with pay — so the facility can be sanitized, and coverage of medical bills for employees and their families should they contract COVID-19 from work.
Wilkerson did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Amazon said they “have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances.”
Zamarron brushed away those measures as “mostly PR stuff,” saying the fast-paced nature of the work makes it impossible for employees to always maintain a distance of six feet.
Asked if he was worried about potential retribution, Zamarron said no.
“I feel like my coworkers have my back, and if Amazon management comes at me we’d be ready to respond,” Zamarron said.
Shut Amazon Down. Pay us all. Our lives are worth more than packages.
Fellow Amazon workers, it's time to take matters into our own hands. Bring some coworkers together, come up with your demands, gather support, build unity and take direct action! There's power in unity and numbers! Also, sign and share this petition: http://shorturl.at/epyAWPosted by DCH1 Amazonians United on Wednesday, April 1, 2020