- On Wednesday, a group of Amazon employees called We Won’t Build It sent an internal letter denouncing the company’s work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and calling on the company to better protect its workers at data centers, fulfillment centers, and Whole Foods amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- Employees have already tested positive for coronavirus at Whole Foods and some warehouses, and the letter says Amazon should offer them unconditional paid sick leave.
- “Local and national governments, as well as international authorities, have been taking extraordinary measures to attempt to minimize the harm of this modern plague. And all the while, Amazon is taking steps to ensure that many of those measures are futile,” the letter said.
- Another point of protest: Palantir, which builds software that helps ICE track down undocumented immigrants, is a customer of the Amazon Web Services cloud.
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A group of Amazon employees sent an internal letter on Wednesday calling out their company’s work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and asking it to better protect its warehouse workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter was written by a group called We Won’t Build It, which is also calling on the company to better protect its fulfillment center and data center workers, as well as Whole Foods employees.
“Local and national governments, as well as international authorities, have been taking extraordinary measures to attempt to minimize the harm of this modern plague. And all the while, Amazon is taking steps to ensure that many of those measures are futile,” the letter said. You can read the full letter below.
While many Amazon employees like software engineers have been able to work from home, the letter denounced how Amazon kept its Whole Food stores and warehouses running even though employees there tested positive for coronavirus. While Amazon now offers two weeks of paid sick leave for these employees, the letter says they should receive unconditional paid leave.
The letter was sent to Amazon’s We Won’t Build It internal mailing list, which has over 600 members. The group is not asking for signatures, but instead asking employees to discuss these issues with these colleagues, share their support for the letter, and donate to a GoFundMe to support workers who have contracted COVID-19, the coronavirus disease.
The letter also took a stand against Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), denouncing how it has been arresting people at hospitals amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The demands of the We Won’t Build It campaign have not changed,” the letter said. “They have always been life or death for many people. Now they are life and death for all of us. Amazon must discontinue providing services to the people and agencies that are threatening the lives and health of this country and the entire world, and ensure the health and safety of all of our co-workers and colleagues, regardless of job role.”
We Won’t Build It has previously demanded that the company turn away the business of Palantir, which hosts its data analytics software in the Amazon Web Services cloud. Palantir has over $150 million in contracts with ICE, which reports indicate entails providing software to gather data on undocumented immigrants and to plan immigration raids.
Recently, a group of Microsoft workers also backed a campaign led by the immigrant advocacy group Mijente to encourage ICE to stop hunting down undocumented immigrants during the coronavirus crisis.
You can read the full letter below:
We are in the grip of a global pandemic. As of March 22nd, over 340,000 cases of COVID-19 have been identified globally, and that number is growing rapidly. Local and national governments, as well as international authorities, have been taking extraordinary measures to attempt to minimize the harm of this modern plague. And all the while, Amazon is taking steps to ensure that many of those measures are futile.
ICE, the violent enforcement arm of the US border regime, is creating an escalating situation putting immigrants, their own agents, and the general public at risk. In the past week, ICE has continued their policy of violating national and international standards and law by posing as doctors and arresting people in hospitals in the midst of a pandemic, which will frighten our most vulnerable neighbors away from getting testing and care, and further community transmission of SARS-CoV-2. In response to strong community outrage, ICE claimed they were scaling back enforcement, but quickly walked that statement back. Detainees in 3 ICE facilities so far are on hunger strike, calling on ICE to take steps to prevent the spread of the virus, which it has repeatedly failed to do in the past. ICE is actively exacerbating the COVID-19 pandemic, and by continuing to provide support to the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, ICE and strategic partners of ICE like Palantir, Amazon is actively exacerbating the pandemic as well.
Meanwhile, even as office workers are asked to work from home, Amazon’s measures to protect FC (fulfillment center) and DC (data center) workers, as well as shop floor workers at Whole Foods, have ranged from inadequate to openly negligent. Whole Foods workers and shoppers and warehouse workers in New York have both been openly exposed to SARS-CoV-2, yet Amazon has kept both facilities running. Amazon has offered two weeks paid sick leave for workers who have tested positive for COVID-19, but since tests are hard to come by the only acceptable solution for Amazon workers is to offer unconditional paid sick leave for all workers.
The demands of the We Won’t Build It campaign have not changed. They have always been life or death for many people. Now they are life and death for all of us. Amazon must discontinue providing services to the people and agencies that are threatening the lives and health of this country and the entire world, and ensure the health and safety of all of our co-workers and colleagues, regardless of job role. If the company will not do the right thing, then it is up to us as workers to stand together to protect ourselves and each other.
Join us in reaching out to our co-workers, our neighbors, and our community with the following steps:
- First, speak with your co-workers and colleagues about this! We’d recommend everyone who reads this reach out to five other Amazonians to talk about these issues and about this statement. We need each other, now more than ever!
- In the midst of this pandemic, it is important to reaffirm the principles we are fighting for. We are asking you to tell us through this survey why you have decided to sign the We Won’t Build It letter.
- Our fulfillment center co-workers have started a GoFundMe to support workers who have contracted COVID-19. Many of us are struggling at this time but if you have some extra funds, please send some their way.
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