BY: GIANNA LUGLIANI
Jeff Bezos is the richest human in the world, having founded one of the largest internet companies in existence and amassing a total net worth of around $193.5 billion dollars over the course of the company’s lifetime. His widely-known and acclaimed company, Amazon, has been a massive success since its creation in 1994, currently gaining more than 197 million visitors on its website every month. With a company this large that has such a high demand for its millions of products, it needs an abundance of workers in order to sustain the business and keep up with the trademark 2-day Amazon Prime shipping. Although the company itself continues to thrive, the unsafe conditions of its workers, especially during the Coronavirus, have caused an outrage among its employees.
In a CNN exclusive interview, a former employee expressed his insight on how the company responded to the outbreak of the virus back in March. At the time when many businesses across the nation were shutting down for the safety of their customers and employees, Amazon warehouses remained open until late March. This put its workers in a very dangerous spot as they were forced to keep coming to work in crowded conditions with the infectious virus constantly in the back of their minds. It took one of the work locations in Kentucky to have three employees test positive for Covid-19 for the place to finally be shut down until it was safer. It was also mostly due to the protests workers organized that spread their message that they would not come back until the warehouse was proven to be safe and clean enough for their return.
On top of demanding its workers to put their lives at risk to continue working during the global pandemic, the company has always had quite a history of putting its workers through miserable conditions and long hours of exhausting labor. Amazon’s “relentless drive for efficiency in its fulfillment centers has led to injury and even death,” demonstrating how they prioritize efficiency of shipping over their own worker’s lives and wellbeing. John Dzieza, along with many of his colleagues, have spoken out about how “the company has increasingly come to treat its warehouse workers as robots.” It has also been reported in 23 different locations that “almost 10 percent of full-time workers sustained serious injuries in 2018, more than twice the national average for similar work.” Workplace injuries have been so commonplace and normalized that it has become a common ordeal for painkiller vending machines to have to be installed in their buildings. Jeff Bezos’ net worth has increased by around $24 billion over the course of the coronavirus, resulting from the capitalization of his many buyers who have had to defer to online shopping as their main source of shopping in 2020. Despite this increase in profits, he decided to cut the $2 per hour raise for all his workers that had been implemented to entice them to return to work during corona. Warehouses have been opened back up, even though the virus has only grown worse since March. The wellbeing of his employees has never been Bezos’ main concern, shown evidently through his overwhelming lack of efforts to protect them as long as his company remains flourishing.