United States workers fight for their health

This 30 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Amazon, Instacart among companies who plan to strike over safety concerns amid the COVID-19 outbreak

Yahoo Finance’s Akiko Fujita joins the On The Move panel to break it all down.

Support the striking Instacart, Amazon and Whole Foods workers: here. Like Amazon and the Washington Post daily, Whole Foods is owned by the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos.

Late Monday night, online retail giant Amazon fired Chris Smalls, a management assistant at its JFK-8 distribution center in Staten Island, hours after he led a walkout in protest against unsafe working conditions in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 50 Amazon workers took part in the job action, holding up signs which read, “Our Health is just as Essential”, in reference to management’s use of the government’s designation of Amazon as “critical infrastructure” to force workers to remain on the job without any meaningful safety measures: here.

“We should be the ones deciding how this could be run to be safe for us”. Amazon warehouse workers describe unsafe conditions and discuss forming workplace committees. By Douglas Lyons and Samuel Davidson, 31 March 2020. Workers at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island, New York announced yesterday that they plan to walk out today to protest the prevailing conditions: here.

From UltraViolet in the USA today:

This week, Instacart delivery workers are on strike to demand protections for their health and safety.1

Delivery workers are on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus. They’re critical for getting food, medication, and other basic needs to families across America.

But 175,000 Instacart workers–personal shoppers for a service where anyone can request a shopper and delivery for stores like CVS, Costco, and Petco–are being forced to put their health at risk, without even the most basic of benefits.

Instacart, whose workers are mostly women, is refusing to provide basic protections including hazard pay, hand sanitizer, or paid sick leave for people with pre-existing conditions.2,3

Together, we can show Instacart that customers and the public support Instacart workers and believe that benefits like paid sick leave are critical.

Will you sign the petition in solidarity with Instacart workers?

Instacart is seeing a big jump in business right now, because of the increased demand for home grocery delivery. In fact, Instacart is seeing so much demand that it’s planning to hire 300,000 new shoppers.4

While Instacart’s corporate employees get to work from home and have benefits like paid sick and family leave, health insurance, and life insurance, Instacart won’t even give basic protections to the workers who do the direct work of shopping and delivering orders.5

Starting today, Instacart workers will not accept orders until the company agrees to provide:

  • Hazard pay of an additional $5 an order;
  • Free safety gear (hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and soap); and
  • Paid sick leave to include workers with pre-existing conditions who have been advised by their doctors not to work at this time.

Instacart claims that “the health and safety of our entire community–shoppers, customers, and employees–is our first priority.”6 But refusing to provide basic protections puts employees–more than half of whom are women–and customers at risk.

That’s why we’re adding our voices to support Instacart workers’ and show the company that its customers and the general public support worker’s demands for basic health protections.

Instacart isn’t alone in failing to provide worker protections, and this strike marks the first time employees in what’s known as the gig economy–jobs that are short-term or freelance rather than employees with benefits–are striking in response to the coronavirus. Showing support for these workers won’t just help protect them and the consumer they’re providing services for, it also puts pressure on other companies to support their workers with paid sick leave and other crucial benefits. Together, we can help ensure that Instacart workers get the benefits they deserve and pressure other companies to follow suit.

Thanks for speaking out!

–Shaunna, Kat, Kathy, Anathea, Melody, Pam, Lindsay, Sonja, Kimberly, Maria, and Katie, the UltraViolet team


1. Instacart’s Gig Workers Are Planning a Massive, Nationwide Strike, Vice, March 27, 2020

2. Ibid.

3. Why Suburban Moms Are Delivering Your Groceries, NPR, May 25, 2019

4. Instacart Wants To Hire 300,000 Shoppers To Help Meet Coronavirus Demand, Forbes, March 23, 2020

5. Instacart’s Gig Workers Are Planning a Massive, Nationwide Strike, Vice, March 27, 2020

6. Ibid.

In a press briefing held Monday in the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump declared that a death toll of 100,000 to 200,000 in the United States as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic would represent “a good job” by his administration: here.

‘The Worst Type Of Leader To Have In A Crisis’. Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat has an urgent message during the coronavirus crisis: Authoritarians like Trump don’t care about human life. They care about power.

“A lot of people don’t get a ventilator when they come to a hospital now, no matter how young they are”. New York City paramedic speaks out about dire conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic: here.

On Monday the official total of positive COVID-19 cases in New York City prisons rose to 167 prisoners, 114 staff and 23 prison healthcare workers. The infamous Rikers Island, with a population of 4,740, now has the highest infection rate of any defined population globally, at almost 3 percent. Rikers’ infection rate is almost 10 times more than New York City as a whole, which has an infection rate of 0.357 percent, according to the Legal Aid Society: Given the scarcity of testing, the true case numbers are undoubtedly much higher. At least two prison workers have died in New York: here.

More than 150 immigrants held at the York County Prison detention center in Pennsylvania have started a hunger strike demanding immediate release amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The strike, first reported by the Movement of Immigration Leaders in Pennsylvania, is part of a growing movement across detention centers around the country. As reported last week, 350 immigrants held in the Stewart Detention Center in southwest Georgia have been on a hunger strike since last Thursday demanding better protection against the pandemic: here.

As 150,000 hotel rooms remain empty, Las Vegas government forces 500 homeless residents to sleep outside on asphalt parking lot: here.

This 31 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Insurance Companies Already Know How They’ll Profit From COVID-19

40 million people just lost their health insurance along with their jobs. Former Cigna VP Wendell Potter says tying health insurance to employment has made the outbreak devastating for people, but not for insurance companies.

“It’s the profit system at the root of these problems”. Teachers across the US discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: here.

The profit system is sabotaging the struggle against the coronavirus. By Patrick Martin, 31 March 2020. Giant American corporations have blocked the development of inexpensive ventilators and are hoarding supplies of materials needing to make billions of N95 masks for health care workers.

The number of deaths in Detroit from the coronavirus increased by 49 percent on Monday, with 27 new fatalities bringing the total from 35 to 52. The total number of confirmed cases in the city rose to 1,801, according to data published by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services: here.

Tennessee state officials recommend health care workers use swim goggles, diapers and garbage bags as protection from COVID-19: here.

10 thoughts on “United States workers fight for their health

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  2. The elite as usual in corporate America have nothing to fear but fear itself – this protection is denied to frontline workers, how distressing.

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