Workers from Amazon, Whole Foods, Target, Instacart and Shipt called a sick out on Friday to protest the lack of protection from coronavirus at work, according to The Verge.
The protest was designed to overlap with International Workers' Day.
Much of the attention for the strike was focused on Amazon, where one worker died from coronavirus and two others were infected.
A day before the strike, Amazon did away with its unlimited unpaid time off policy for workers.
“The fact they took it away prior to the sick-out lets you know they’re aware of the sickout and trying to stop people from participating in that,” said Derrick Palmer, an Amazon employee at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island, New York, who has worked at Amazon for more than four years. “Now they’re forcing people to go to work because if you run out of unpaid time off, that’s it, you’re fired.”
Palmer took part in the protest outside of the JFK8 Amazon warehouse a few weeks ago, where two workers were quarantined after contracting coronavirus.
Two Amazon workers were also fired after protesting work conditions in the company's warehouses.
“While we respect people’s right to express themselves, we object to the irresponsible actions of labor groups in spreading misinformation and making false claims about Amazon during this unprecedented health and economic crisis,” said the spokesperson in an email.
Amazon said it has spent more than $800 million on hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, sanitizing wipes, gloves and installing more hand-washing stations at its warehouses during the first half of the year.
Target employees are also taking part in the sick out, with workers from over 100 stores and warehouses joining the protest, according to a tweet from the Target Workers Unite account.
In an email to The Guardian, a Target spokesperson responded to the employees' concerns.
“While we take them seriously, the concerns raised are from a very small minority. The vast majority of our more than 340,000 frontline team members have expressed pride in the role they are playing in helping provide for families across the country during this time of need," the spokesperson said.
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