A worker at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse has died of COVID-19, the company confirmed to VICE News.
Since March, workers at that fulfillment center in New York have been protesting, calling for additional safety precautions to protect them from the coronavirus. The company has instituted some additional safety precautions; it also fired a worker for protesting and then tried to smear him.
The company said that the employee who died hadn’t been at the warehouse since April 11 when he tested positive for the coronavirus. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of an associate at our site in Staten Island, NY,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues.”
The death was first reported by The Verge.
Amazon fired one of the workers at the Staten Island warehouse, Christian Smalls, who organized a walkout to demand the company sanitize the warehouse after someone who worked in the facility tested positive for the coronavirus. An internal memo previously obtained by VICE News laid out a plan to smear Smalls, calling him “not smart or articulate.”
Another Amazon employee who worked at the company’s warehouse in Hawthorne, California, died in mid-April.
New York’s attorney general has taken notice: A letter from the AG’s office dated April 22, obtained by NPR, noted that the company may be providing “inadequate” protections to its workers under state law. That letter also noted that the company may have violated labor law by firing Smalls.
And on Monday, one of the company’s top engineers and a vice president, Tim Bray, announced his resignation from Amazon and called the company “chickenshit” for firing protesting workers.
It’s not known how many workers at Amazon facilities have died of coronavirus, but an unofficial tally by the workers themselves and reviewed by The Verge indicates that at least 130 workers have fallen ill.
Cover: In this March 30, 2020 file photo, workers at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Staten Island, N.Y., gather outside to protest work conditions in the company’s warehouse in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File )