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Amazon is giving workers a letter to prove they are doing an ‘essential’ job

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As a growing list of states order “nonessential” companies closed to sluggish the unfold of COVID-19, Amazon is giving warehouse and supply employees letters to hold saying that they’re engaged in important work.

“This letter is offered as proof that the provider of this letter is an Amazon worker and, as such, an worker of a vital enterprise,” reads a letter given to achievement heart employees. “This worker is offering important work to help Amazon’s supply of crucial provides on to the doorsteps of people that want them. In doing so, this worker permits members of the group to stay at residence and scale back the danger of COVID-19 publicity and transmission, together with the aged and different weak individuals.”

The letter, written on Amazon letterhead, additionally features a paragraph addressed to legislation enforcement with a telephone quantity for verifying the provider’s employment. The Verge confirmed that related letters have been given to warehouse employees and supply drivers across the nation this week, with minor variations by function and area.

Although no states have required employees to hold documentation, Target and McDonald’s have instructed employees to hold related letters. In Italy, France, and different nations hit laborious by the coronavirus pandemic, residents are required to hold types explaining why they’ve left the home. It’s doable the letters are a preemptive measure in case related measures are taken within the US. Amazon didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The Department of Homeland Security considers warehouses, logistics, meals supply, and different sectors Amazon may moderately fall underneath to be important providers, and tens of millions of People instructed to remain residence have come to depend on the corporate’s distribution community for fundamental requirements. To satisfy surging demand, Amazon final week halted deliveries of nonessential gadgets to its warehouses and introduced plans to rent 100,000 further employees.

However the firm has a protracted historical past of injuries and grueling situations at its warehouses and delivery network, and as COVID-19 has unfold, employees throughout the nation have referred to as for higher security precautions. Amazon says it has intensified cleansing procedures, however employees say cleansing supplies are sometimes briefly provide and the tempo of labor doesn’t depart time to make use of them. Amazon halted workforce conferences and altered schedules to keep away from employees crowding collectively, however employees say their jobs nonetheless usually require being in shut proximity. There have now been confirmed circumstances of COVID-19 at 15 US warehouses. Amazon has closed just one, a returns-processing facility in Kentucky, and solely after the governor ordered it shuttered. The corporate has additionally didn’t notify employees when there was a coronavirus case at their facility, leaving employees to depend on rumors and rumour.

Final week, a bunch of senators wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos expressing concern for the protection of Amazon employees in the course of the pandemic and asking what precautions are being taken. Bezos revealed a memo the next day itemizing a number of security measures, together with the ordering of tens of millions of masks for employees, although he acknowledged that the masks are briefly provide and lots of the orders have but to be stuffed. Bezos’ memo, just like the letters given to employees, additionally made clear that the corporate is positioning itself as a vital service in the course of the pandemic, referring to “important work” that can’t be performed from residence. “We’re offering an important service to folks in every single place, particularly to these, just like the aged, who’re most weak,” he wrote.

But it surely’s unclear how lengthy Amazon can proceed offering this service if employees don’t really feel secure. Many warehouse employees say they’ve begun staying residence somewhat than danger an infection, and drivers report bottlenecks at their supply stations. Supply occasions for some gadgets already stretch to a month or extra and threaten to worsen if Amazon can’t workers up.

Final week, the corporate raised pay by $2 per hour and elevated time beyond regulation pay, however for a lot of employees, it wasn’t sufficient. “On the finish of the day, it’s nearly being secure,” stated a employee at a North Carolina achievement heart. “On the finish of the day, it’s not about making the greenback.”

He walked out after listening to rumors, which Amazon denied, {that a} co-worker had examined constructive for COVID-19. He’s undecided whether or not he’ll come again.

See the total letter beneath:

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