Amazon, Target Workers Plan 'Sickouts' Over Coronavirus Safety Concerns
Amazon.com and Target employees, on the front lines of COVID-19, are leading nationwide efforts to draw attention to the health risks they face delivering groceries and other critical supplies to Americans. Their approach? Planned sickouts. More than 350 Amazon warehouse workers in 50 locations pledged to call out from their jobs starting Tuesday, according to Athena, a coalition of local and national organizations representing workers. Target workers are planning a mass sickout for May 1, which is International Workers Day, said Adam Ryan, a liaison with Target Workers Unite, an employee activist group. At least 30 grocery store workers have died after being exposed to the virus in the U.S., and another 3,000 have called out of work after showing signs of illness or other possible coronavirus-related complications, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
Total Retail's Take: Much attention, and rightfully so, has been given to the front-line healthcare workers, such as doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and others that are working tirelessly to take care of patients that have contracted COVID-19. However, it's also important to recognize the efforts of retail workers, both those working in stores that have been deemed essential as well as those fulfilling and shipping e-commerce orders from distribution centers across the country, in continuing to provide the American public with essential items such as groceries, medical supplies and household supplies. Amazon and Target workers in such positions feel as though the companies they're working for are putting their own profit over the health and well-being of their employees. And they plan to make their voices heard the best way know how: by not showing up for work, which will reveal their true value to their employers. Both Amazon and Target have implemented policies to protect their employees, including social distancing, issuing personal protective equipment (PPE), and taking the temperatures of workers before the start of their shifts, but many workers don't feel enough is being done. With unemployment levels at record highs, one has to wonder if workers that participate in the sickout will have a job to come back to. There are plenty of people waiting in the wings to replace them.