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Amazon Workers Plan to Strike Over COVID-19 Outbreak at Plant

By Rich Duprey - Mar 30, 2020 at 9:57AM

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Workers want facility closed until it can be thoroughly sanitized.

Amazon.com (AMZN -0.53%) employees at a Staten Island, NY, warehouse are planning to go on strike today at 12:30 p.m. because they think the e-commerce giant hasn't done enough to protect them after a worker contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

A member of an activist organization, who also serves as the facility's assistant manager, is leading the walkout. He told CNBC, "We will not return until the building gets sanitized." 

The warehouse employs approximately 4,500 people and about 50 to 200 employees are expected to participate in the strike.

Amazon warehouse worker

Image source: Amazon.com.

Shut down and cleaned out

The striking employees want Amazon to close the facility, known as JFK8, until the entire plant can be sanitized. It also wants the workers to be paid for the time off while the cleaning is performed. 

The strike leader says more employees have tested positive for the coronavirus than the retailer admits and that employee's would have to "force [Amazon's] hand." Amazon says it doesn't want any worker feeling uncomfortable about working conditions and that employees are permitted to take unpaid leave until the end of April without repercussions. 

The e-commerce leader also instituted daily temperature readings of workers starting their shifts at JFK8, employees are told to maintain six feet of space between themselves and fellow workers, and Amazon says it is "following all guidelines from local health officials and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site."

Amazon has also raised the hourly pay of its employees by $2 and doubled their overtime pay. If a worker tests positive and is quarantined, they can receive up to two weeks of pay.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and recommends the following options: short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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