(NEW YORK, NY) – Today, in support of the Amazon workers walking out today in Staten Island, New York at Amazon’s JFK8 fulfillment center, Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) issued the following statement:
“RWDSU supports Amazon workers’ demands for stronger protections at the Staten Island facility and at all facilities in the United States. Amazon workers have walked out again today in New York because of an increased number of COVID-19 cases at the JFK8 facility. Workers have repeatedly reported their concerns about serious issues impacting their own health and safety at this and many other Amazon facilities. The RWDSU continues to support their voices speaking out on this issue.
“Amazon workers are speaking out across the globe because they need a real seat at the table in expressing their concerns. It took an 11-day strike for workers at one fulfillment center in Italy to win increased daily breaks, a detailed agreement on cleaning and sanitizing practices at the facility, and staggered break times and working distances. We demand that Amazon, at a minimum, listen to their own employees’ voices and make appropriate policy changes. If they were willing to do that in Italy, they have no justification for refusing to negotiate with their employees here in New York or at any of their facilities across the U.S. The number of Amazon’s Covid-19 cases continues to grow at staggering rates.
“Clearly Amazon must do better for its workforce. Amazon needs to listen to its workers who are at risk during this global pandemic. Amazon needs to understand this is a matter of life and death for its employees - and not just another public relations problem.”
More information on the agreement reached by workers in Italy:
The strike in Castle San Giovanna, Italy began when workers reacted to discovery of a COVID - 19 positive worker and poor sanitation and prevention policies by Amazon management. Following 11-days on the strike line at the fulfillment center in Italy, workers reached an agreement on April 2, in which Amazon agreed to several health and safety provisions.
Supported by their national unions and the health authorities of the regional government, workers were successful in negotiating an agreement on health and safety conditions at their facility. The agreement was negotiated by workers being directly affected by working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon needs to negotiate with all of it’s workers on the front lines of this global pandemic, including ones at JFK8.
While the agreement covers only this singular Amazon fulfillment center in Italy, the RWDSU believes that if they can do this in Italy they need to do it in the U.S. as well.
Workers in Italy won many provisions that workers in the U.S. have yet to see, including:
Increase in daily paid break period for each shift.
Detailed agreement on now daily cleaning and sanitizing practices in the facility.
Shift and break times further staggered to facilitate physical distancing.
Social distancing measures between workers while at work.
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