Worker’s Correspondence: Amazon Keeps Workers Socially Alienated Not Socially Distanced or Safe

Cover photo by Gina Ferazzi, Los Angeles Times

By Blake Garrison

The following is a report from PIT5 Amazon distribution center in Pittsburgh.

Across the span of the second week of December, two workers at the Pittsburgh Amazon distribution center tested positive for Covid-19.

When a worker tests positive, Amazon sends out an alert over an app all workers have on their phones. The alert reads “If someone is determined to have been in close contact, we will proactively reach out to them individually to advise them of possible exposure.”

But on a white board available for workers to give feedback, one worker exposed this as a lie: “Don’t say ‘you will be contacted after Covid exposure.’ Nobody was contacted!”

Other workers interviewed by Tribune expressed similar skepticism about Amazon keeping workers safe stating, “How do they know every single person they came in contact with? It’s impossible! They’re always reporting a new case.”

Amazon claims to have “implemented over 150 process changes […] to ensure the health and safety of everyone in our building while serving our customers.” Amazon’s social distancing policies are only enforced to prevent workers from talking to each other and not when they interfere with production.

Workers are not allowed to sit together on breaks, and when workers pause to talk, supervisors yell “Six feet! Six feet!” at them until they break apart. Yet at “pick off,” a station at every junction of conveyor belts, 2 to 3 workers stand less than 6 feet apart during their shift. And any time the rate of incoming packages increases, workers assigned to stack boxes on pallets work in close proximity frequently passing within a foot of each other.

Amazon workers socially distancing in break room

Much like “hero pay,” the extra $2 an hour Amazon provided when the pandemic first started only to be cut mid-summer, its Covid-19 policies pretend to be concerned for workers but their inconsistent enforcement of these policies demonstrates that Amazon is only concerned about its profits.

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