As reported by Fox News, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez labeled Amazon “racist and classist” for describing an employee that was organizing a walk out as “not smart or articulate” in a leaked memo reviewing a public relations strategy to go on the offensive against the employee.
The New York representative tweeted “Amazon’s attempt to smear Chris Smalls, one of their own warehouse workers, as “not smart or articulate” is a racist & classist PR campaign.” She continued, “If execs are as concerned abt worker health & safety as they claim, then they should provide the full paid sick leave ALL workers deserve.”
Amazon’s attempt to smear Chris Smalls, one of their own warehouse workers, as “not smart or articulate” is a racist & classist PR campaign.
If execs are as concerned abt worker health & safety as they claim, then they should provide the full paid sick leave ALL workers deserve. https://t.co/pAubxenDwr
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 3, 2020
Christian Smalls was a Amazon employee that worked in a warehouse in Staten Island. Smalls led a walkout of Amazon employees while he was on a paid 14 day quarantine after coming in contact with another employee with COVID-19, which according to Amazon, was the reason he was recently fired.
The leaked memo was from a meeting that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was said to have attended. It was a meeting where they discussed, among other COVID-19 related issues, the situation involving Smalls’ walkout while in violation of the quarantine policy. The employee that tested positive in Smalls’ warehouse reportedly came into contact with several coworkers, but Smalls has claimed that he was targeted because he was vocal about demanding the warehouse be cleaned and the employees be told who has tested positive.
Amazon’s strategy that was laid out in the memo involved highlighting the immorality and illegality of Smalls’ choice to leave the quarantine and then make him the focus of any questions about the cleanliness of the work environments in the warehouses.
Fox News reported further on the accusations from AOC.
“He’s not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position than simply explaining for the umpteenth time how we’re trying to protect workers,” Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky said, according to Vice News.
Ocasio-Cortez, who is a member of the “squad” of four liberal freshman Democratic congresswomen and a vocal supporter of organized labor, slammed Amazon for its comments, joining what was an already large pile of commentators and elected officials criticizing the company for its refusal to work with Smalls on his demands.
“Amazon’s attempt to smear Chris Smalls, one of their own warehouse workers, as not ‘smart or articulate’ is a racist & classist PR campaign,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “If execs are as concerned abt (sic) worker health & safety as they claim, then they should provide the full paid sick leave ALL workers deserve.”
An Amazon spokesperson, however, disputed Ocasio-Cortez’s claim.
“That’s not true. In fact, Mr. Zapolsky didn’t even know the race of the person at the time he made his comments,” the spokesman said.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose presidential campaign Ocasio-Cortez and two other members of the “squad” have endorsed, has also been highly critical of Amazon during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bernie Sanders entered the conversation and tweeted “Jeff Bezos: The richest man in the world. Amazon: Pays $0 in federal income taxes. Workers: Unable to get the protection they need,” Sanders tweeted in response to the Amazon workers’ organizing efforts. “The greed has got to end. I stand with Amazon workers who are fighting for their rights.”
Jeff Bezos: The richest man in the world.
Amazon: Pays $0 in federal income taxes.
Workers: Unable to get the protection they need.
The greed has got to end. I stand with Amazon workers who are fighting for their rights. https://t.co/TZwTvchLnh
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 2, 2020
Amazon has remained strong behind their statement that they are doing their best during this pandemic, but Smalls put people at risk when he broke quarantine and this put Amazon’s employees and customers at risk.
Amazon has reportedly tripled their cleaning efforts and have distributed protective equipment and cleaning supplies to employees, as well as encouraged social distancing.
Smalls stated in an interview with Jimmy Dore’s YouTube show, that he started with human resources, but after not getting a response, he contacted the CDC, OSHA, local police and the governor’s office in an attempt to “get everybody out of that building”.
I’M NOT SMART OR ARTICULATE https://t.co/FGmTGA7CsF
— Christian Smalls (@Shut_downAmazon) April 3, 2020
Smalls stated in the interview that he started working behind the scenes at home and continues to be working to help the employees that he believes are working in unsafe conditions.
The Amazon warehouse in Staten Island has reported 10 positive cases of the coronavirus and is now being looked at by New York officials, including Attorney General Letitia James.
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Author: Carver Malone
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