Tonya Ramsey’s first year and a half working as ship dock associate at an Amazon warehouse near Detroit was, all things considered, a good experience. Sure, there were minor gripes, but nothing out of the ordinary. “Every workplace is always going to have some kind of complaints from employees,” she said. But at the end of the day, it was a steady paycheck to bring home to her fiancé and 11-year-old child. “I didn’t have any complaints before the pandemic,” she said. But as the novel coronavirus started to spread like wildfire across the U.S., that sense of satisfaction quickly melted away.
There has been a glut of negative reports coming out of the Amazon warehouses, which have remained open throughout the Covid-19 pandemic: Employees say the company failed to alert them to the first coronavirus cases in the facility, or to communicate a plan of action in the event that a person or surface is exposed to coronavirus (which can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on plastic for up to three days). Workers also claim there is a shortage of cleaning supplies and say there’s been no guarantee of paid sick leave. After workers in a warehouse in New York walked out on Monday, Amazon garnered further criticism when it fired one of the action’s organizers, Chris Smalls.
I’m an Amazon Warehouse Worker. This Crisis Is Making Life Hell for Us.
A new series about how this pandemic affects our lives, our loved ones, our work, and our way of life
For Ramsey, 29, those grievances added up to a breaking point. “We’re getting more cases of Covid-19 confirmed in our building,” she said, noting that there had so far been three confirmed cases of coronavirus in the warehouse. (Michigan has been among the worst-hit states: It ranks third in the country for coronavirus deaths with over 300.)
“The building should be closed and sanitized properly. And when they’re telling us that we have confirmed Covid-19 cases, that’s all they’re telling us,” she continued.“They’re not telling us the department…