While many businesses are suffering during the global coronavirus crisis, Jeff Bezos is flourishing. In the midst of the backlash Amazon is facing due to its alleged treatment of employees, Bezos' wallet remains obscenely healthy. As of last week, his net worth has reportedly increased by five percent, or better put, by a staggering $23.6 billion.
Over the last months, Amazon has seen a rise in demand as its customer base continues to self-isolate. To cope with the surge of orders, it has already hired thousands of new employees and aims to hire an additional 175,000. It has also pledged to prioritize essential items such as sanitizers and baby formula.
However, the increase in workforce has been met with controversy. Amazon has been repeatedly accused of failing to protect its staff from Covid-19 by not providing enough face masks, not implementing regular temperature checks as promised, and refusing paid sick leave.
Amazon has fired employees who've publicly criticized the company for its coronavirus response; the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is currently looking into these claims. Last week, the New York Post reported that an Amazon warehouse employee had passed away from the virus.
“We are calling out because Amazon is putting its revenue above our safety,” Jaylen Camp, an Amazon worker told The Guardian. “We are not essential to them – they just think of us as numbers and quotas. They are not protecting our health." This failure is leading to huge warehouse strikes after over 130 Amazon warehouses in the US have contracted the virus, leading to more than 30 confirmed cases.
This Friday, April 24, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) are calling for a virtual walkout in response to all of the above — in particular, of Amazon's firing of two employees who were outspoken regarding the company's working conditions during the pandemic. The AECJ is scheduled to host a live stream on the same day, allowing the two recently-fired employees to answer questions pertaining to the company's treatment of its workers.