NEW YORK - Several Amazon workers staged a walkout from an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island on Monday to demand that the retail giant close the facility for cleaning after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
One of the workers who participated in the walkout said that Amazon fired him Monday afternoon, according to the group that organized the protesters.
"Amazon would rather fire workers than face up to its total failure to do what it should to keep us, our families, and our communities safe," Chris Smalls said in a statement released by Make the Road NY. "I am outraged and disappointed, but I'm not shocked. As usual, Amazon would rather sweep a problem under the rug than act to keep workers and working communities safe."
In a statement, Amazon responded that Smalls has been "misleading" and noted that the company had requested that he stay home for two weeks with pay but instead he came to the warehouse on Monday.
"He was placed in paid quarantine out of an abundance of caution because we notified him that he may have had close contact with someone at the building who was diagnosed," Amazon said in a statement emailed to FOX 5 NY.
The workers who protested on Staten Island said that Amazon failed to tell them that a growing number of their coworkers are being infected with the coronavirus and that the company isn't doing enough to protect them from getting sick while on the job.
But Amazon called the accusations "unfounded" and called its workers "heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items they need in this crisis."
"We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances," Amazon said. "The truth is the vast majority of employees continue to show up and do the heroic work of delivering for customers every day."