National, Retail

Walmart & Amazon Employees Continue at Risk

March 24, 2020

By Joe Levine

Washington DC —  The health and safety of  Walmart and Amazon employees remain at risk as they continue to provide critical food and supplies to families.

“As Walmart associates, we don’t get to practice ‘social distancing.’ Every day, swarms of customers come into our stores — some wearing masks, many wearing gloves — and Walmart still hasn’t done enough to protect those of us who continue to interact with and serve the public,” said Sanjuana Arreola, a United for Respect leader and Walmart employee of ten years. “This is Walmart’s chance to be on the right side of history. We need immediate universal paid leave for all part-time and full-time employees. The consequences for employees and for the public could be dire if Walmart continues to put its profits before the health and welfare of all our families.”

Retail giants Amazon and Walmart continue to stay open and profit from this public health crisis, yet both corporations have failed to implement policies that provide all part-time and full-time employees with adequate protective equipment, and comprehensive health coverage during this period for themselves or their families. Despite the heightened risk Walmart and Amazon employees face by continuing to serve the public, neither corporation has instituted hazard pay to adequately compensate people who are putting themselves and their families at risk by working. 

“Amazon is making us choose between coming to work if we feel sick or losing pay. My coworkers and I aren’t just worried about ourselves, we’re thinking about our communities and our families,” said Monica Moody, a United for Respect leader and Amazon employee of five months. “We keep hearing that people shouldn’t be gathering in groups larger than ten, but that’s what we’re doing every day. Amazon can afford to provide universal paid leave to all of its employees in this moment of the pandemic, but instead, Jeff Bezos is hiring more employees who will risk their health and safety just to create profits for the corporation. We can’t wait anymore. This is not a drill. We need universal paid leave and healthcare now.”

Congress exempted large corporations like Walmart and Amazon from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) legislation that requires businesses to provide emergency paid sick and family leave to their workforces. Consequently, millions of working people are likely to go to work sick in fear of losing their job or benefits, adding to the public health care crisis. Retail employees and paid leave advocates are calling on Congress to ensure that the third stimulus package includes the P.A.I.D. Leave Act, which covers all employees, and to end the exemption for employers of 500 or more.

March 24, 2020

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