Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

#ReHireChrisSmalls, Amazon Worker Fired for Organizing Walkout

On Monday, March 30, Chris Smalls helped organize and lead 50 workers in a walkout at the Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York. Workers took action because the company is failing to protect them. One of their coworkers tested positive for the coronavirus the week before; the company claims this is the only case, […]

Left Voice

March 31, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share

On Monday, March 30, Chris Smalls helped organize and lead 50 workers in a walkout at the Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York. Workers took action because the company is failing to protect them. One of their coworkers tested positive for the coronavirus the week before; the company claims this is the only case, but workers say there have been at least 10 and that management has failed to notify them or properly clean the warehouse. They aren’t being given PPE and there isn’t social distancing inside the warehouse.

Amazon workers walk out

Voices from the Amazon Strike: Today in Staten Island, Amazon workers walked out demanding the shut down of the warehouse.

Posted by Left Voice on Monday, March 30, 2020

Left Voice spoke to Chris Smalls at the walkout yesterday.

The walkout organized by Smalls garnered a great deal of media attention. The Amazon warehouse joined workers mobilizing for protections all over the country, like those at Whole Foods, as well as Pittsburgh garbage workers and others. 

Later on Monday, the company fired Smalls for “violating social distancing guidelines and refusing to remain quarantined …” It’s a particularly striking indictment of how capitalism truly functions when a worker is fired for the very thing he’s fighting against. There is no limit to the bosses’ contempt for the rest of us. 

Workers in the logistics sector — from Amazon to Instacart — are under assault not only from COVID-19 but also from companies that put profits before human needs. These workers are serving a vital role as many people cope with the pandemic by staying at home. Healthcare workers are only part of the “front line” against the outbreak. Logistics workers are another part. They’re delivering vitally needed food and other items to homes around the country.

Their companies are putting them at unique risk. These workers cannot work from home. Most of them are either gig workers or paid very low wages. Missing work means not being able to sustain themselves. They work in crowded fulfillment centers with thousands of others. Critically important protective supplies such as hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes are rationed or unavailable. As the Verge recently reported, “Workers at 19 warehouses have tested positive for COVID-19, according to local news reports. So far, Amazon has closed facilities only when forced to do so by government order or worker protest.”

Chris Smalls and all other workers fired under similar circumstances must be rehired immediately. Firing Smalls is a warning to Amazon specifically, but it’s also a threat to all other sectors of workers: If they choose to fight, they’ll be fired. 

But the rest of us won’t stand idly by either. Everyone who shops at Amazon should demand Amazon to #ReHireChrisSmalls. Unions and other sectors of workers must take up this demand as well. 

But given the scale of the crisis, we need more.  We need these logistics workers to be able to continue working — as long as they are willing to, regardless of what the bosses say. And they need to be working safely: with protective gear, with social distancing, with hazard pay.

Already, the bosses have shown that they can’t guarantee even the most basic safety measures for workers. So, workers need to take our safety in our own hands: take the warehouses from Amazon, and the grocery stores from the big companies, and put workers in charge of everything — not just the work itself, but also emergency measures to ensure health and safety of workers and customers alike. If that means shutting down a warehouse to give it a thorough cleaning before reopening under workers’ control with new safety protocols, so be it. No doubt, the great majority of people will gladly wait a few extra days for shipments if it means other human beings will be safe.

Meanwhile, whether Amazon workers have been fired, laid off, or are still working, their wages must be paid in full. In fact, they must be given immediate wage increases as hazard pay. And those who decide to stay home must be paid in full, too. There’s plenty of money in Jeff Bezos’s personal bank account to cover that!

As Chris Smalls said when speaking to Left Voice yesterday, “Stand up. Don’t be afraid. We the power. This building cannot work without us.” In fact, nothing can work without us, the working class.

Worker’s voices from the Amazon walk out

“These people are working in fear. They only confirmed one case, there are at least 10 in here. There is no social distancing going on. People are packed on top of each other. Close this building now and pay us for every day that its closed. Close this building down, get it clean.”

Posted by Left Voice on Monday, March 30, 2020

Facebook Twitter Share

Left Voice

Militant journalism, revolutionary politics.

United States

Activists in Detroit speaking at a press conference condemning repression of the pro-Palestine movement on May 20, 2024.

Detroit Activists Hold Press Conference to Condemn Repression of Pro-Palestine Protesters

Detroit Will Breathe organized a press conference to discuss the police violence and repression against pro-Palestine protesters. The movement must stand in solidarity and unite to combat the increase of repression.

Kyle Thibodeau

May 23, 2024
Protesters carrying Palestinian flags march on a street in front of a line of cops

Activists, Including Left Voice and Detroit Will Breathe Members, Arrested at Protest of Biden in Detroit, Free All Arrested and Drop All Charges

Detroit police brutally arrested activists who were protesting outside of Biden's speech to the NAACP.

Left Voice

May 19, 2024
Tents at the Rutgers University in NJ during the Palestine encampment in May, 2024

What the Movement for Palestine Can Learn from the Rutgers Encampment Deal

The Gaza solidarity encampment at Rutgers New Brunswick ended in a deal between the administration and a negotiations team at the camp. It’s been a highly controversial decision. The experience at Rutgers shows the need for a truly democratic, bottom-up fight for Palestine.

Jason Koslowski

May 17, 2024
Pro-Palestine encampment at UCLA in May, 2024.

“The Working Class has the Power to Stop this Genocide”: Interview with a UAW 4811 Rank and Filer

On Thursday May 15, 48,000 UAW Academic workers voted to authorize a strike, the largest academic workers union in the country to do so. Left Voice interviewed UAW 4811 member Peter Ross about what sparked this historic vote, and the labor movement’s fight for Palestine

Julia Wallace

May 16, 2024

MOST RECENT

Two large signs that read "UC Divest from Genocide" and "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" behind the two signs a "UAW on Strike sign" pokes out

Dispatch from Day 2 of the UC Santa Cruz Picket Line

Left Voice member and City University of New York worker Olivia reports on the second day of her trip to Santa Cruz for UAW 4811’s historic strike to talk to workers.

Olivia Wood

May 25, 2024

Why Won’t PSC-CUNY Stand with Palestine Now?

While other higher education unions are going on strike in defense of their workers and against the genocide in Gaza, the bureaucratic leadership of PSC-CUNY just crushed a resolution calling on the university to divest from Israel and to drop the charges against Palestinian activists arrested on April 30. 

James Dennis Hoff

May 24, 2024

Attack on Pro-Palestinian Protestors at UMich Latest Example of Democrats Defending Israel’s Genocide in Gaza

Capitalist apologists from the Democratic Party have chosen their business partners in Israel’s far-right government over Palestinian lives. In Ann Arbor, those same so-called “progressive” Democrats decided to bring felony charges against protestors earlier this week, encouraging harsh police violence against the University of Michigan encampment.

Ryan McCarty

May 24, 2024
A sign for the University of California at Santa Cruz with a line of UAW signs in front of it

Dispatch from Day One of the UC Santa Cruz Picket Line for Palestine

Left Voice member and City University of New York worker Olivia traveled to Santa Cruz for UAW 4811’s historic strike to talk to workers. This is her dispatch from the first day of the strike.

Olivia Wood

May 22, 2024