Amazon halves COVID-19 quarantines to keep workers on the job

In a text message sent to employees on January 7, Amazon announced that it was reducing paid vacation for people infected with COVID-19 from two weeks to one week, or a maximum of 40 hours of work. The policy is effective immediately.

The text message, delivered on Amazon’s A-to-Z planning app, makes the patently false claim that vaccination alone is enough to prevent the spread of a serious infection, saying the risk is ‘significantly decreased’ among the vaccinated. Notably, citing this justification, Amazon did not then insist that its employees be vaccinated to be at work.

He says: “Over the past two years, we have consistently based our response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic on advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and advice from our own medical experts. .” According to the memorandum, Amazon was “updating” its “isolation and quarantine policy to one week.”

In this file photo from Thursday, April 16, 2020, the Amazon logo is seen in Douai, northern France. (AP Photo/Michel Pinler, File)

The new directive comes amid a record spread of COVID-19 in the population, with the United States reporting more than one million cases on Tuesday. Hospitalizations have increased by 82% in the last 2 weeks and deaths have increased by 40%.

The United States has recorded more than 60 million cases of COVID-19, and according to New York Times data, more than 837,000 deaths.

On Dec. 27, the CDC cowardly bowed to corporate interests, announcing it would cut the recommended quarantine time in half, from 10 days to five for employees infected with COVID-19. At the time, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the shortened recovery time was necessary to “ensure that there is a mechanism by which we can continue to operate society safely while according to science”, or in other words, to make sure that the mass infection does not interfere with the profit of American companies.

The decision came after the air travel industry lobbied the US federal government for weeks. Massive outbreaks in the industry have led to the cancellation of thousands of flights over the past month and a half.

Commenting on the decision at the time, the Miami Herald said the updated guidelines are the result of a push by ‘some experts to shorten the isolation period’ which ‘was not sustainable as it would strain the workforce in critical industries “.

On Thursday, Chris Smalls, the leader of a group seeking to establish a union at the JFK8 distribution center in Staten Island, New York, announced on Twitter that at least 10% of the warehouse was out with COVID-19. “It’s a public health crisis. [Amazon] has hidden cases from workers since 2020, the text they send to workers does not reflect the actual amount,” he wrote. Last month, the New York State Attorney ordered the JFK8 warehouse to increase its preventive measures against infection.

“I am grateful that we are given at least seven days [instead of the CDC’s recommended five days]“, told an Amazon worker from Baltimore to the World Socialist Website. “But who knows if that’s a scientific recommendation or not. I honestly think they just set it at seven days because it’s easier on Amazon’s payroll.

An article in Business Intern details Amazon’s desire to profit at all costs. He mentions an internal email sent by a warehouse manager during the December 2020 spike, which states, “When I was hired, the term ‘drinking from the fire hose’ was how it was described at what it was like to work at Amazon.

“That was not an accurate description at all,” the letter continues. “A better description would be something like drinking from the fire hose, underwater, while a group of people try to stop you from coming up to breathe.”

“The incident provides a rare insight into the grueling lives of Amazon warehouse managers,” the article said, adding that these corporate “lieutenants” are “assigned a daily distribution quota of at least five “debriefings”, a written warning given to associates who do not comply with work policies.

Amazon is burning 3% of its workforce each week, an annual turnover rate of 150% of its workforce of nearly two million workers. Some factories located in rural communities have had to bus in workers from other areas.

The decision to reduce isolation periods follows Walmart’s policy announced Jan. 5 that it would cut pandemic-related paid time off by half, according to CNBC. According to the report, Amazon and other companies have “repeatedly changed their policies as the pandemic persisted and new variants emerged.”

Amazon’s latest policy change contradicts other public health guidelines. In December, the company reintroduced a mask policy in its warehouses. “In response to the rapid spread of the omicron variant of Covid-19 in the United States and advice from public health authorities and our own medical experts, face coverings are once again necessary for everyone,” said a text from A to Z.

It was one of the many zigzags in politics. In May 2021, Amazon announced that workers were free to remove the masks before bringing them back in August, then removing them again in November. The company is again insisting that workers wear masks, but insists on putting them back to work after seven days of quarantine, during which many will still be infectious.

Amazon continues to conceal the number of infections at its US facilities. In October 2020, Amazon released a report that said 20,000 of its employees had tested positive – the last time Amazon released numbers.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s profits are at record highs, with the latest figures showing profits of $3.2 billion in the quarter ending September 2021. Profits were up 15% from the same period in 2020, which was itself a banner year for the company. .

Amazon workers must resist the corporate campaign to force them back to work before they recover from COVID-19. Workers must form rank-and-file committees, like those formed by the Amazonians in Baltimore against management‘s efforts to expose them to the deadly disease in order to rack up profits.

The committee is formed and led by Amazon workers to protect their fellow Amazonians from efforts to exploit them by management. It is independent of both the Democratic and Republican parties of big business and the established union bureaucracy, which is itself a branch of business and has played a vital role in forcing workers back to work during the pandemic.

About Donnie R. Losey

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