CNBC: As Coronavirus Kills Another Amazon Worker, The Company’s Response Is Adding To Employees’ Fears

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

An Amazon warehouse employee in Northeast Illinois passed away from the coronavirus, the company confirmed to CNBC. The employee died on April 18 and, according to sources, his last day at the facility was on March 19, 2020. 

The employee, who worked out of Amazon's Waukegan, Illinois warehouse, known as MDW8, died of the disease on April 18. The worker, who was 50 years old, left behind a wife and five children, as well as two step-children. The employee worked the night shift as a picker, which involves selecting items from the facility's shelves and preparing them for shipping, among other duties.


Beltway Insider: Trump/COVID 19, Protesters, GOP Pandemic Benefits, Vaccine, EU, N/S Korea, Election


"We are saddened by the loss of an associate at our site in Waukegan, Illinois," Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski told CNBC in a statement. "His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues." 

One MDW8 worker, who knew the individual, claims not everyone at the facility knew of the employee's passing: "If someone I know doesn't show up one day and it's because they got sick and died, are we just not going to acknowledge that loss?"

The worker's death comes as Amazon warehouse employees have raised concerns that the company isn't doing enough to protect them from catching the coronavirus while they're on the job. Employees have also criticized how Amazon handles positive cases at its facilities, with some arguing it should shut down those warehouses and do more to make sure employees are informed. 


The Coronavirus Pandemic Exposes Frailties in the Medical Ecosystem


It's not clear how or when the employee contracted the coronavirus. The worker was last at the facility on March 19, at which point he hadn't reported any symptoms, Amazon said. The company was made aware that the worker tested positive for the coronavirus on March 24. 

As coronavirus kills another Amazon worker, the company's response is adding to employees' fears

Amazon declined to comment on how many warehouse employees have died from the coronavirus nationwide. The Illinois worker's passing marks the fourth known case of an Amazon worker who has died from the virus, following reports of deaths in Staten Island, New YorkHawthorne, California; and Tracy, California

The company hasn't provided a total number of workers who have tested positive from the virus at its facilities. As a result, Amazon workers have attempted to keep an unofficial tally of confirmed and unconfirmed cases nationwide, with one employee Reddit group estimating there are at least 400 employees who have contracted the coronavirus.


CNBC: Neiman Marcus Bankruptcy Challenged, Creditors Push for Sale


Amazon operates 175 of warehouses across the country and some warehouses have reported dozens of cases. 

Tensions Grow

Tensions have been growing between Amazon and warehouse workers nationwide, as the number of confirmed cases and deaths at its facilities have climbed. Warehouse workers have called for the company to put in place greater safety protections, including providing paid sick leave and closing down facilities where there are positive cases for additional cleaning. 

Amazon has previously said it has gone to "great lengths" to keep facilities clean and make sure employees are following necessary precautions, such as washing their hands, using hand sanitizer and practicing social distancing. It has also started taking employees' temperatures when they report to work and has supplied them with face masks.

In the company's latest earnings report, Amazon said it would invest its expected $4 billion second-quarter profit in coronavirus-related efforts, such as purchasing additional safety gear for workers and building out its coronavirus testing capabilities, among other things.


CNBC: J. Crew is Preparing for a Bankruptcy Filing that Could Come This Weekend


Still, Amazon workers continue to argue the company isn't doing enough to protect them. Employees have staged at least three walkouts at local warehouses and participated in nationwide strikes to demand stronger coronavirus safety protections. In recent weeks, their calls have garnered support from Amazon tech workers in Seattle, including from a distinguished engineer and VP, Tim Bray, who resigned over the company's labor practices. Amazon has not responded to Bray's post, in which he said the company had a "lack of vision about the human costs of the relentless growth and accumulation of wealth and power."

Fear Culture

Amazon workers previously told CNBC they've become paranoid that managers aren't being honest about whether employees are sick with the virus. Additionally, when there are confirmed cases or deaths at their facility, workers claim Amazon isn't notifying them quickly enough. 

Amazon said it communicated to MDW8 employees about the worker's passing and also extended its support to his family. 

The company's process of notifying workers about a death at a facility is inherently slower than the process of announcing a confirmed case. Amazon said it notifies workers via a text message or phone call when there are positive cases at a facility. When a worker dies, the company gradually gathers employees in small groups to inform them.

Amazon has been notifying workers of a death in person, rather than over the phone, in an effort to reduce fear and so that managers can inform employees about counseling services should they need extra support.

Due to the coronavirus, Amazon has staggered shifts at its facilities to prevent crowding, which means that certain employees may find out about a death at the facility before others, Amazon said. That's likely to cause some confusion among employees who hear about a death from a coworker before they receive official confirmation from their facility.  

An MDW8 employee disputed Amazon's characterization that all workers at their facility were informed of the individual's death. This worker, who knew the individual who passed away, asked to remain anonymous out of concern that speaking to the press could jeopardize their job. 

The employee said they've spoken to coworkers at their facility who, as of Tuesday, were unaware that an individual had passed away from the virus at MDW8. Instead of informing the entire building, a manager at their facility only informed workers who were on the same shift as the individual, the worker claimed.

Since there was no general announcement of the worker's passing, the worker said other employees in the facility heard "through the grapevine" over the past few weeks that an individual died from the coronavirus. Many workers don't know the name of the individual who died, only that he worked on the overnight shift as a picker.

Communication Chain Broken

Amazon told CNBC that when it learned of the worker's passing, it asked the facility's leaders to communicate the message to teams on the warehouse floor, using appropriate social distancing. Since some workers may not have been on site at that time, they may not have received the message, the company said. Amazon added that it didn't share the identity of the individual who passed out of respect for the family and their privacy. 

When a facility reports a positive case, Amazon will conduct a deep cleaning of the facility. Workers have criticized this response, saying it is an inadequate strategy to prevent further transmission of the virus. 

The MDW8 employee said Amazon didn't shut down the facility after the worker's death was announced. The employee said they were told that the facility would conduct a deep cleaning following the announcement of the worker's death. The worker said cleaning crews in hazmat suits came to the facility and cleaned it section by section, while employees were on the job, including many of he "high traffic touch points" like guardrails and the bins that hold packages.

Amazon said it was not aware of any special cleaning at the facility on April 19, the day after the worker's death.

Five Point Determination Check

 

The company previously said it has been consulting with health authorities and medical experts on how to handle building closures for deep cleaning after an employee tests positive. Amazon evaluates where the employee was in the building, for how long, how much time has passed since they were onsite and who they interacted with, among other things.

The MDW8 employee acknowledged that Amazon has taken many measures to improve safety conditions at their facility. Compared to other Amazon facilities, where, in some cases, there are dozens of positive cases, MDW8 has only reported three confirmed cases, they added. 

However, the employee said they wish there was more of an effort at their facility to recognize the worker's passing and honor their life. 

The worker added: "If someone I know doesn't show up one day and it's because they got sick and died, are we just not going to acknowledge that loss?

Haute Tease

  • Earthquake Hits Bay Area; Scores Injured; Three Critically

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area this morning causing small pockets of damage as the quake rolled through the northern California wine country, startling sleeping residents of the Napa Valley region.

     
  • Celeb Photos: Premieres and Parties at the Annual Austin Film & Music Festival

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Hollywood event company A-List Communications wrapped its annual premiere program of film events at its popular Arts & Cinema Centre with sponsors Maestro Dobel Tequila and Blue Moon Brewing at Basecamp and Summit venues located at 120 West 5th Street in Austin, TX.

     
  • The Complete Brain Exercise Book Review - Easy Mental Exercises Guaranteed to Keep The Mind Sharp

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Complete Brain Exercise Book, the second brain stimuli tome from Dr. Fraser Smith, picks up where he left off in Keep Your Brain Young, by penning an exercise manual guaranteed to keep the mind sharp and agile.

     
  • Netflix Scores Big With Seven Creative Arts Emmy® Awards

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    LOS ANGELES, CA – August 16, 2014 – Netflix connects with audiences and Hollywood alike, garnering four Creative Arts Emmy® Awards for its lauded series "Orange is the New Black" and "House of Cards," and three wins for its acclaimed documentary, "The Square."

     
  • Money News: DOW Roars Back; World Markets Follow; Asian Markets Strong

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Dow Jones Industrial came roaring back fell in dramatic fashion over the past week, which included the highest single day gain of over 400points, following last week stunning fall, and ended the week with  record closes  triggering similar upswings in the three other major U.S. Markets.

     
  • SF Arts: Thomas R. Schiff: Poetics of Distortion Two-Part Exhibition

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Harvey Milk Photo Center and SFArtsED Gallery are pleased to announce a book release and two-part exhibition, The Poetics of Distortion: Panoramic Photographs of the San Francisco Bay Area, by Cincinnati-based photographer Thomas R. Schiff. 

     
  • Teenage Utah Couple Missing Since December Found

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The bodies of a young couple who had been missing since December were discovered at the bottom of an abandoned Eureka mine shaft, hands and feet bound, brutally beaten and butchered ending the three month mystery into their disappearance.

     
  • Bienvenue Chez VousConcierge Auctions Announces Its First European Auction In Sexy Saint Tropez, France

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Leading luxury auction firm, Concierge Auctions, enters the European market in ultra sexy Saint Tropez, France,the 11th country in which the firm is now holding auctions, with the auction of Villa La Ponche, a prívate estate boasting French Riviera views.

     
  • The Hitman’s Bodyguard Review - Slapstick Comedy, A Dramatic Euro Modern Action Film

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Hitman’s Bodyguard, from Summit Entertainment and Millennium Media, present a dramatic action comedy of epic proportions  with solid action, slapstick comedy, stunning car chases through idyllic European cities,  modern storytelling,  and just a tinge of romance.

     
  • Le Cataclysme et La Souris

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Au lendemain du scrutin européen, si l'heure est à l'adaptation de l'Union aux attentes des citoyens, en France le temps ne semble pas être contraint, l'Elysée comptant même accélérer le train des réformes.

     
  • Lovely Molly, Graphically Shocking and Deeply Resonating, from Director Eduardo Sanchez

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    LOVELY MOLLY, the newest film from Blair Witch Project Director Eduardo Sanchez brings to the screen a troubling, albeit realistic, portrayal of the deep devastations of childhood traumas surfacing in adult lives.

     
  • The Last Full Measure Review – Strong Emotional Performances, A True Story of Valor

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Last Full Measure, from Roadside Attractions, presents the story of William H. Pitsenbarger, a USAF Pararescue medic who died saving men he never knew, and they never forgot, in one of the bloodiest battles of Vietnam.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Obama Challenged on Recess Appointments; January Job Numbers; Kerry Sworn In; White Nominated

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Obama received a stunning upset recently when the federal appeals court ruled that National Labor Relations Board appointments he made over a year ago during the recess were deemed unconstitutional.

     
  • HRH Princess Eugenie of York, Daughter of HRH Prince Andrew Duke of York, Marries

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Her Royal Highness Princess Eugenie of York, ninth in line for succession, and Mr. Jack Brooksbank, her longtime executive boyfriend, married Friday in a traditional ceremony at Windsor Castle's St. George's Chapel, in front of 800 guests.

     
  • Money News: DOW, North American, European Markets Close Down; Asian Markets Up

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Dow Jones Industrial closed the trading week down with a stunning loss as the bear market pummeled the three main U.S. and once again mauling seven of the ten most watched global markets with equal intensity.