Amazon Fires A Quarantine Breaker
Leaked documents from Amazon show that they had planned to smear Mr. Christian Smalls. Jeff Bezos attended this meeting.
“He’s not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position than simply explaining for the umpteenth time how we’re trying to protect workers,” – Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky in the notes.
Amazon claimed that Smalls was fired because he broke quarantine, but turned out it was because he had come into contact with a person who had tested positive. Smalls said he was singled out as many other workers had been in contact with the covid-19 positive worker for much longer periods.
“Amazon says he was fired for violating a company-imposed 14-day quarantine after he came into contact with an employee who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Smalls says the employee who tested positive came into contact with many other workers for longer periods of time before her test came back. He claims he was singled out after pleading with management to sanitize the warehouse and be more transparent about the number of workers who were sick.|
These quotes make a very clear picture of what Amazon intended to do, and it was never about worker safety. It was about salvaging their negative press and blame a worker who was trying to do the right thing. The Vice article is damning.
Staten Island Warehouse Walkout
Mr. Christian Smalls had come into contact with an employee who had tested positive for Covid19 and was told to stay home for 14 days in quarantine, with pay. Small had asked Amazon to shut down the Staten Island warehouse to be deep cleaned after multiple cases of covid-19, to no avail. Amazon continued to remain open, despite putting people at risk by not shutting down for even a day to deep clean.
When the warehouse was not shut down for that deep cleaning and sanitizing, a walk out was started by Mr. Smalls in an effort to stop the spread. But despite being in quarantine Mr. Smalls decided to attend and was fired for breaking quarantine.
Amazon Should Have Closed Down?
My thoughts are, Mr. Smalls should not have broken quarantine. He potentially put others at serious risk. However, Amazon should have shutdown their warehouse after even 1 case of covid19 to do a deep clean. This is to the benefit of the employees and the customers as well. With the amount the packages the Staten Island Warehouse goes through, and how long covid19 survives on packages, it would be wise to disinfect and sanitize with a good deep clean. And maintain that clean with daily sanitizing.
But these closures would disrupt business and set back a already tight schedule for shipping. The workers and customers though, pay the ultimate price if they get sick. Which is why many Amazon workers have started to walk off the job. They’re people with families and fear getting sick, and possibly dying.
Smalls Should’ve Stayed Home?
Regardless of if Amazon closed down to clean or not, Mr. Smalls should not have breached quarantine and show up at the walkout. I understand that other people also had been in contact with the worker who had tested positive and I also believe he was most certainly singled out for a reason.
It would have been fine if he led from home instead of showing up, and potentially harming more people, if he is infected himself.
Amazon fired Mr. Smalls citing the reason was solely because he broke his quarantine which he was being paid for. I understand Mr. Smalls frustration and the other employee’s outrage for not having a cleaned warehouse. They could have done the walkout without Mr.Smalls participation or have him video call in from quarantine. Which to me, would have been more meaningful then having to see him getting fired for this action. It could be the scapegoat for Amazon, to fire the employee who manifested this walkout, but now they have a solid reason to do so- he broke quarantine- no better reason than that.
Do You Agree With Amazon or Smalls?
It’s a hard call to make here. Both parties are in the wrong. Amazon should have closed down to deep clean, to possibly prevent any more people from getting infected. But Mr. Smalls should not have broke quarantine to attend the walkout. If he is infected, he could be passing it on. My annoyance lands solely on Amazon for their lack of care and diligence when it comes to their workers. These are human beings and they need a safe environment to work in too. I understand that Amazon has secured 10 million masks for their workers and are working to get 25 million more, but they also plan to donate some to ‘clean up their image a bit’. They also plan on making the masks themselves- another business opportunity that can’t go to waste.
Lets hope that Amazon does right and deep cleans the warehouse and that Mr.Smalls stays in quarantine and comes back negative.