Amazon fired a worker at a Staten Island, N.Y., warehouse who helped organize a protest raising concerns about unsafe working conditions at the facility in March. Amazon said it fired the worker after he ignored a request from his manager to stay home because of his contact with a worker who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Workers at several of Amazon’s U.S. facilities have raised concerns during the pandemic about their safety, protesting in front of the company’s warehouses to demand better pay and safer working conditions. Amazon offered workers a temporary $2-an-hour wage bump in March, though it eliminated that pay hike at the end of May.

And weeks after the pandemic began, the company instituted social distancing workplace rules to protect employees, as well as providing them with masks and offering coronavirus testing sites at some of its facilities.

Efforts to fight the union drive have their own perils. Some of Amazon’s technical workers have offered support for their warehouse colleagues, including top software engineer and vice president Tim Bray, who quit Amazon in May to protest the company’s firing of warehouse workers, as well as climate activists.

And consumers still view warehouse employees as essential, said Joshua Freeman, a labor history professor at Queens College at the City University of New York.

The union “may have a moral edge,” Freeman said. “Covid hasn’t gone away.”

Source: The Washington Post