The COVID-19 coronavirus is so dangerous that societies all around the world have been shutting down. However, while this has been going on, Amazon.com magnate Jeff Bezos, a billionaire many times over who made his money defrauding the working man of his justly earned wages (a sin that according to the Bible is in the same category as the willful murder of the innocent and sodomy), is having Amazon employees not only work in their jobs, but without any protections or regard for their safety.
However, thankfully, some working men are refusing to allow themselves to be doormats. According to Whole Foods employees (the company is owned entirely by Amazon), some workers are organizing a strike over conditions today.
On March 31, Whole Foods employees will call in sick to demand paid leave for all workers who stay home or self-quarantine during the crisis, free coronavirus testing for all employees, and hazard pay of double the current hourly wage for employees who show up to work during the pandemic.
“COVID-19 is a very real threat to the safety of our workforce and customers,” Whole Worker, the national worker group that is organizing the “sick out” wrote in a statement. “We cannot wait for politicians, institutions, or our own management to step in to protect us.”
The sick-out follows reports that Whole Foods workers at numerous stores across the country, including locations in New York City, Chicago, Louisiana, and California have tested positive for Covid-19. In each of these locations, the stores have remained open, leading some employees to charge that Whole Foods has failed to prioritize their safety during a period of record sales for the company. (source)
In addition, workers at Amazon have been organizing worker strikes, to which Amazon responded by directly violating Federal Law and fired the organizer of the strike.
Chris Smalls, an Amazon.com Inc. fulfillment center employee, said the company fired him after he led a strike at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, over coronavirus safety conditions.
“Taking action cost me my job,” Smalls said Monday in a Bloomberg TV interview. “Because I tried to stand up for something that’s right, the company decided to retaliate against me.”
A group of workers at the Staten Island fulfillment center walked off the job Monday to demand Amazon close the facility for extended cleaning, the latest in a wave of virus-related protests. They say a number of their colleagues there were diagnosed with Covid-19. Organizers say more than 60 workers participated in the protest.
In a statement Monday night, New York State Attorney General Letitia James called Smalls’ firing “immoral and inhumane.” James urged the National Labor Relations Board to investigate the incident and said her office “is considering all legal options” as well. (source)
Now I want to be very clear, that one should not look to support a “workers’ rebellion” as a proxy for advancing socialism, which would be something that many wealthy would support in order to later concentrate more power among themselves.
What needs to be remembered is that workers are human beings, and that corporate America, while professing a “love” of the working man, has a long history of supporting eugenic policies and has aggressively sought to undermine the dignity and safety of the working many by a series of “loopholes” built into the laws.
It is arguable that the current conditions caused by the virus “broke the camel’s back” in that people, who are tired, impoverished, frustrated, and now being forced to work in unsafe conditions, are starting to rebel.
Amazon does provide an essential service, given her link to the modern economy and the things which she provides. However, one cannot provide services at the expense of one’s employees’ health, safety, and general welfare, which also includes sanity.
The pursuit of order and the corporation taken too far leads to fascism. The pursuit of the worker and his rights taken too far leads to socialism. Both lead to destruction.
While there is no perfect situation, the idea is to strive for as much balance as possible, knowing things will never be perfect in this world. The danger is when individuals and groups lobby for extreme positions, attempting to manipulate one side as far as possible not for the benefit of the people they claim to help, but so to manipulate the system that they can take it for all it has to offer and then abandon it.
The corporation has a place, and that place has been lauded for a long time. However, the worker also has a place. He is a human being, and he has been forgotten in the corporate pursuit of profit by any possible means. It is because of this that he is now frustrated, and given the conditions, one can only imagine where this could lead to.