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Technology Amazon warehouse workers sue over risk of COVID-19 infection

01:25  04 june  2020
01:25  04 june  2020 Source:   theverge.com

Amazon is using thermal cameras to screen warehouse workers for COVID-19

  Amazon is using thermal cameras to screen warehouse workers for COVID-19 Amazon is exploring different technological approaches to screening warehouse workers for COVID-19. The internet retailer has confirmed to Reuters that it’s using thermal cameras at some warehouses to check for fevers that may be indicative of the new coronavirus. The company didn’t explain the decision, but the method should be faster and safer than conventional methods that require checking everyone with a forehead thermometer. Workers saidWorkers said Amazon still asks for a thermometer check (reportedly required by an international standard) on anyone the thermal cameras flag, although that method involves slipping the thermometer through a plexiglas screen.

The workers are calling on Amazon to “immediately close down” any facilities with Covid - 19 cases and provide testing and two weeks of pay for workers The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation into a Pennsylvania warehouse over worker complaints there, and the

Warehouse workers and other Amazon employees don't view their jobs with the same rose-colored Amazon recently issued a letter for drivers to show to police officers if they get pulled over for being "I don't want to carry COVID - 19 home to my family," the worker said. "My last straw was when my

A group of three Amazon warehouse employees who work out of the company’s New York fulfillment centers have filed a lawsuit alleging the company put them and their families at risk of COVID-19 infection, according to a report from Bloomberg. One plaintiff, Barbara Chandler, says she contracted the virus in March from a State Island warehouse, known as JFK8. Her cousin, who is also her roommate, later died after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, the report states.

a close up of a logo © Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The complaint accuses Amazon of fostering a work environment in which employees “were explicitly or implicitly encouraged to continue attending work and prevented from adequately washing their hands or sanitizing their workstations.” It also claims the company, through quotas and disciplinary action, led workers to avoid social distancing and other safety measures to continue hitting metrics and to keep up with surging demand.

Amazon VP quits over company firing COVID-19 whistleblowers

  Amazon VP quits over company firing COVID-19 whistleblowers Amazon’s recent firings of labor critics have prompted dissent among its upper ranks. AWS vice president Tim Bray has quit the company (via The Verge) over what he sees as an attempt to punish whistleblowers worried about inadequate COVID-19 protections at warehouses, among other issues. While he believes that Amazon is pouring “massive efforts” into warehouse safety and that his former division treats people well, he also believes staff are telling the truth and that there’s a “vein of toxicity” that prompts the company to fire critics. He would have to approve actions he “despised” if he stayed in his role.

Former Amazon employee Chris Smalls claims that when he brought up concerns that the company was not adequately protecting workers from WATCH: Man Claims Retail Giant Told Him ‘No Need To Panic’ When He Brought Up Safety Concerns Over COVID - 19 . Continuing, he says, “God forbid

Answers to frequently asked questions healthcare professionals may have concerning COVID - 19 . To the extent feasible, healthcare facilities could consider prioritizing HCP who are not at higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID - 19 or who are not pregnant to care for confirmed or suspected

The lawsuit also alleges that Amazon has taken a lax approach to contact tracing investigations to try and determine which employees may have come into contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, and that the company has punished workers for speaking out about safety concerns.

“HR just told me that I should keep it quiet,” Chandler told The Verge back in April about her conversation with her supervisors regarding her positive test results. “That’s all they told me.”

The lawsuit, filed in New York, is not seeking damages for illness or death, Bloomberg reports. Instead, the suit is asking for a formal injunction to force Amazon to adhere to public health guidance. The three employees have also teamed up to jointly file the suit with nonprofit law firm Towards Justice, the nonprofit legal advocacy group Public, Justice, and workers rights organization Make the Road New York.

Breaking: an Amazon warehouse worker in New York has died of COVID-19

  Breaking: an Amazon warehouse worker in New York has died of COVID-19 Amazon confirmed the death to The VergeManagers notified several workers at JFK8 of the death yesterday. Amazon says the employee was last on site on April 5th and was placed on quarantine after he was confirmed to have COVID-19 on April 11th. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of an associate at our site in Staten Island, NY,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues.

COVID - 19 is the biggest health challenge of our lifetime," said EU lawmaker Agnes Jongerius, who speaks on employment matters for the socialist Medics and nurses are among those most at risk of contracting the disease. Localised outbreaks have often occurred in plants with a large workforce

Amazon said it would provide workers with up to two weeks of paid sick leave if they tested positive or are in quarantine due to the coronavirus. Employees who have been diagnosed with COVID - 19 or are in quarantine may be eligible for additional paid time off beyond the two weeks, the spokesperson

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amazon warehouse workers have been sounding the alarm about COVID-19 safety for months

Amazon has emerged during the pandemic as one of the few nationwide essential businesses that has seen a massive increase in demand for its services since shelter-in-place orders and other lockdown measures went into effect throughout the country back in March. Amazon has responded by hiring hundreds of thousands of new workers, enacting new safety measures at its warehouses, and expanding its sick leave and other worker benefits to try and offer flexibility to hourly workers. Many of Amazon’s salaried corporate employees, on the other hand, have been able to work comfortably from home.

Despite pledging to spend $4 billion to deal with the effects of COVID-19, Amazon has come under fire for not doing enough to protect its workers and for cracking down on protests against the lack of health and safety measures at its warehouses. In late April, the company ended its indefinite unpaid leave policy and began requesting workers show up for shifts unless they specifically say COVID-19 poses a risk to them or their family members.

Amazon accused of fighting efforts to track COVID-19 in Wisconsin facilities

  Amazon accused of fighting efforts to track COVID-19 in Wisconsin facilities Amazon may be improving safety measures in warehouses to protect against COVID-19, but it’s also accused of being less than forthcoming with vital data. The health officer for Kenosha County in Wisconsin, Jen Freiheit, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Gizmodo) that Amazon was uncooperative with public staff trying to track COVID-19 cases at its facilities. If it didn’t help out, Freiheit said she might push to shut down the Kenosha location.

But infection rates have ticked up over the past week, and Netanyahu has warned that coronavirus curbs would be reimposed if the trend continues. Worker in Netanyahu's office diagnosed with COVID - 19 .

How COVID - 19 spreads, quarantine, self-isolation, isolation, ways you can stop or slow the spread, who is at risk and about false and misleading you have been in contact with a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID - 19 . you have been told by public health that you may have been exposed

Yet warehouse workers, many of which are low-income residents that cannot find other work during the pandemic, have been reporting to work at Amazon warehouses long before that deadline. Those workers have been voicing criticism of Amazon for months now, claiming the company has failed to tell employees when coworkers have been infected and doesn’t adequately clean facilities after reported infections to avoid any disruption in operations. At least eight Amazon workers have died from COVID-19 so far, although the company won’t give out concrete numbers and has yet to disclose how many have become sick.

In March, Amazon fired an organizer of a protest at the same Staten Island warehouse Chandler says she contracted the virus, for allegedly violating social distancing recommendations. That earned the public ire of Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and widespread condemnation from activists and politicians over concerns the act was retaliatory, and leaked Amazon meeting notes later revealed high-level plans to smear the organizer in the media.

Amazon employees behind Kindle, Echo now working on COVID-19 testing technology

  Amazon employees behind Kindle, Echo now working on COVID-19 testing technology On Monday, GeekWire reported that the team behind the creation of Amazon's Kindle e-reader and Echo speakers is now working on developing COVID-19 testing. Currently, Amazon is working with existing labs to process COVID-19 tests done by their workers; however, last week, Bloomberg reported that self-administered test "samples may fly in Amazon cargo jets to a lab the company is setting up" in northern Kentucky.Like Apple, Google, and a handful of other tech giants, Amazon is refocusing some of its hardware development teams to create tools that support the health industry in their fight against COVID-19.

Educate employees about COVID - 19 symptoms and when to stay home. COVID - 19 Stakeholder Calls. Recorded conference calls with stakeholders, to review the current CDC guidance and provide an opportunity for stakeholders to ask questions.

Titled ‘ COVID - 19 Antibody Seroprevalence in Santa Clara County, California,’ the study was published on Friday at MedRxiv, a service that prints health studies before they have been officially peer-reviewed. The tests found only single-digit percentages when testing for Covid - 19 cases

The company has since fired numerous corporate employees after those employees voiced concerns over warehouse safety; Amazon’s official justification is that these employees violated internal policies. Last month, a French court ruling shut down Amazon’s warehouses in the country for weeks after a large labor union requesting warehouse workers argued the company wasn’t doing enough to protect them on the job. The warehouse only reopened after Amazon promised new health guarantees and offered better benefits.

Earlier this month, a prominent Amazon vice president resigned from the company, accusing it in a scathing public blog post of treating warehouse workers as a “fungible units of pick-and-pack potential” and for ignoring the “the human costs of the relentless growth and accumulation of wealth and power.”

Amazon workers in Germany plan two-day strike over COVID-19 infections .
Amazon’s efforts to deal with COVID-19 at its warehouses haven’t been enough to sway at least some workers. The labor union Verdi has announced that staff at six sites in Germany will strike for a minimum of two days over a claimed lack of transparency regarding infections. There had been “at least 30 to 40” workers infected, Verdi representative Orhan Akman told Reuters, arguing that Amazon valued profits over safety. We’ve asked Amazon forWe’ve asked Amazon for comment. In a statement to Reuters, it denied that it didn’t prioritize safety and pointed to $4 billion in safety measures for both employees and customers.

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