By David Martinez
In between shifts on Sunday afternoon, Amazon workers at the PIT5 facility near Pittsburgh gathered to honor six workers who were killed in Edwardsville, Illinois in the midst of devastating storms on December 10. Rather than hold the weather principally responsible, many present at the vigil understood that the workers were put into the deadly situation by Amazon, the giant monopoly that employs them.
“This is something I believe in my heart we can’t ignore,” said one worker who spoke at the vigil. “These were fellow employees. It could have been us. They still had so much to live for, to see, to experience. Lives cut short. Amazon needs to be held accountable.”
The worker referred to the Edwardsville facility as a “death trap” and said, “The only reason [the company is] saying stuff now is because the world is watching them.”
On December 10, the Edwardsville warehouse, known as DLI4 in the abbreviations assigned by Amazon, was in the line of fire of a severe tornado that flattened outside walls and collapsed the ceiling in on itself, burying dozens of workers and killing six. One of the deceased workers, Larry Virden, texted, “Amazon won’t let us leave” to his partner just prior to his death. Another worker, Clayton Cope, was rushing to warn other workers of the impending storm in his final moments.
Two workers at the vigil recited poems they had composed to commemorate their fallen co-workers. Lines from one poem read:
You will always see us through the pain and strife of our love
and stand together with our mourning light
And we will arise with our remembrance of their lives
and we will be together forever
The vigil included a moment of silence, followed by more workers sharing their thoughts. One said, “If something happens, call it out. I have your back, we have each other’s backs.”
The workers’ deaths add to other capitalist crimes related to the storm, such as the deaths of eight workers at the Mayfield Consumer Products factory, a candle-making facility in Mayfield, Kentucky. In both cases, workers were forced to remain in facilities unequipped for severe storms and threatened with punishment if they sought safety elsewhere. The ruling class attributes the deaths to the forces of nature, but they are the direct result of the capitalist system which treats workers as nothing more than a source of profit, leaving them for dead as necessary.
At the vigil, those present strongly expressed their unity with other workers across different Amazon facilities, stating, “Our love and solidarity go out to the workers in Edwardsville and their families. We are all one big workforce. We are like a family.”
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