amazon worker strick new york covid-19 coronavirus
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Workers at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse strike over demands that the facility be shut down and cleaned after one staffer tested positive for the coronavirus.
Amazon has fired the worker at its Staten Island warehouse who organized a walkout on Monday to demand greater protections from the company amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Chris Smalls, 31, a management assistant at the facility, told The Post he was canned in a phone call following Monday afternoon's strike.

"They pretty much retaliated against me for speaking out," said Smalls. "I don't know how they sleep at night."

He and dozens of other employees at the Bloomfield warehouse walked off the job to demand Amazon temporarily close and clean the facility after a worker tested positive for COVID-19 there last week.

They also asked the e-commerce giant to offer paid time off for folks who feel sick or need to self-quarantine.


An Amazon spokeswoman confirmed Smalls was given the boot, claiming it was because he had violated social distancing guidelines and refused to remain quarantined, as instructed by the company, after he came in contact with an employee who tested positive for the virus.

"Despite that instruction to stay home with pay, he came on site today, March 30, further putting the teams at risk. This is unacceptable and we have terminated his employment as a result of these multiple safety issues," Kristen Kish said in a statement.

The company also disputed the number of people who participated in the strike, saying only 15 of the 5,000 associates at the site took part.

Amazon called the workers' accusations "unfounded," saying it had taken "extreme measures" to protect staffers, including "tripling down" on cleaning, obtaining safety gear, having employees keep safe distances from each other and instituting temperature checks for anyone entering the facility.

"Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable," the statement said. "The truth is the vast majority of employees continue to show up and do the heroic work of delivering for customers every day."

Calling the firing "disgraceful," New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office was considering all legal options and called on the National Labor Relations Board to investigate the incident.

"In New York, the right to organize is codified into law, and any retaliatory action by management related thereto is strictly prohibited," James said in a statement.

"At a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling and are deeply concerned about their safety, this action was also immoral and inhumane."

Smalls, a dad of three who said he'd worked at Amazon for five years, waved off the stated reason for his termination — claiming he was allowed to come into work for days after the company knew he'd been in contact with the worker who tested positive.

"I put employees at risk? No, you guys did that," he said.

Enlarge ImageWorkers at Amazon's Staten Island warehouse strike over demands that the facility be shut down and cleaned after one staffer tested positive for the coronavirus.REUTERS

"They do this to people in a pandemic," Smalls added. "What am I supposed to do now?"