News & Politics

NY Unions to Amazon: It Sure Would Be a Shame If Anything Happened to Your Company, Jeff Bezos.

What was that notoriously cynical thing that one-time Obama aide, Rahm Emanuel, once said? Oh, yes, “you never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

And the middle of a national emergency,  in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a time when everyone is making sacrifices, union members are threatening Amazon: Do what I say. Or Else.

New York’s far-left collection of socialists, unionistas, and lawmakers have sent letters to Bezos and his top executives to dictate to them how they should run the warehouse that is bringing food and other necessities to Americans who can’t go out and get them.

To be clear, they’re not just threatening Amazon, the unions have threatened everyone who has come to rely on the ubiquitous company.

As PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neil reports, it all started with a warehouse worker who was fired when he declared the Amazon warehouse unsafe for the employees during the COVID-19 outbreak and decided to organize a strike. Well, that’s how the unions tell it. The backstory is a bit more, ah, interesting than that. It turns out that the wannabe unionist was under orders not to come to work because he’d been exposed to COVID-19 and was on fully PAID medically-ordered quarantine. He came to his strike anyway and potentially exposed other people to the virus. That’s why he was fired. He broke the company’s COVID-19 protocols.

Cue the union’s ironic outrage. Here’s the letter from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store and United Food & Commercial Workers International Unions (RWDSU-UFCW):

We write to you today shocked at reports that Amazon warehouses are not practicing the protocols necessary to protect the well-being of your workers and of the public.

…[W]e are outraged to hear that not only did Amazon executives NOT promptly address the concerns being articulated by your own workers, but you actually fired one of the lead whistleblowers immediately following his courageous action Monday. We call for the swift reinstatement of Chris Smalls to reassure all workers and observers that speaking out about improvements needed to health and safety practices right now is not only tolerated, but WELCOMED as critically important to all of our well-being.

By “swift reinstatement,” do they mean before the end of his quarantine? Asking for a friend.

The union bigshots, led by the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka, demand that Amazon shut down its New York warehouse until the union says it’s good enough for employees to work in.

The unions’ letter claims to have a “compelling number of workers” who “have come forward – and even run the incredible personal risk of walking off the job – to report that the actual situation in warehouses does not match Amazon’s public relations statements.” They don’t specify what that actually means, but the union has answers for how to fix it!

What else do the unions demand? “Independent monitors” to make sure the company does what they say. And the following items:

  • Cancel all rate and productivity requirements related to cleaning.
  • Independent health and safety inspection and ongoing monitoring.
  • Stricter protocols for six-foot distancing measures.
  • Pay for child care for kids who are out of school.
  • Pay for employees stuck in quarantine (which the company already is doing).
  • Pay for employees who have to stay home because a family member is in quarantine.
  • Retroactive pay for employees afflicted with COVID-19.

What do you want to guess that those “independent monitors” for “ongoing monitoring” are from … the unions?

Besides Trumka, the heads of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, American Federation of Teachers, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, and James Hoffa of the Teamsters signed the threat letter.

Another long list of NYC politicos were also co-signers to this obvious threat. The only name among them that was surprising by its absence was Alexander Ocasio Cortez.

As I also explained in PJ Media, the unions are using this moment to put the squeeze on grocery delivery services throughout the country, encouraging work stoppages and strikes. This at a time when vulnerable people who can’t go to the store themselves are dependent on deliveries to get groceries.

We’re all for keeping the workplace safe. We get it. Everyone who’s serious is already taking precautions when they get boxes delivered from Amazon, for example. We would expect that Amazon fulfillment centers – warehouses – take precautions too. It wouldn’t do to poison your customers and sicken your employees. That’s why the union organizer was on paid leave and ordered to quarantine himself.

But using a national emergency to pick the bones of the vulnerable who are frightened already and in deep need is unseemly and a contamination worse than one might find in any Amazon warehouse.