A coalition of labor and environmental activists plan to march to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ mansion in Beverly Hills Sunday, to lobby for higher wages, free health care and a series of reforms in the way the giant company handles the COVID-19 crisis.
Demonstrators will gather at 2 p.m. at Will Rogers Memorial Park at 9650 Sunset Blvd., then launch their roughly one-miles march to 1801 Angelo Drive at around 3 p.m., where they plan another rally at 4 p.m. featuring several speakers.
The event is being organized by The Congress of Essential Workers and will be led by Chris Smalls, a former Amazon employee in Staten Island, N.Y., who was fired in March shortly after he helped organize a work stoppage at the company’s warehouse to protest what he called a lack of protective gear and hazard pay for employees.
Amazon says Smalls was fired for “violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk.”
Organizers of Sunday’s Beverly Hills rally released a long list of demands, calling on Amazon to be “transparent and honest about the number of (COVID-19) cases they have in their facilities” and asking that buildings or locations that have positive cases be shut down, professionally sanitized, and remain closed for a minimum of 14 days with full pay for all affected employees.
They are also calling for a $2-an-hour hazard pay increase, paid leave for employees who receive a COVID-19 test until the test results are confirmed, a “1-3% Federal Wealth Tax,” and free child care and health care, among other demands.
“We demand that Jeff Bezos and the rest of the billionaire class pay their fair share to deal with the climate crisis,” a TCOEW statement said. “We are calling for a decent living wage of $30/hour minimum for all Amazon employees, Medicare and childcare for all, and the right to unionize without fear of retaliation. These are just a few of the issues that we feel billionaires like Jeff Bezos, who makes nearly $4,000 a second, can absolutely help relieve or resolve.”
An Amazon representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday. On its website, the company lists several steps its taken for workers related to the coronavirus pandemic, including:
— offering a special one-time “Thank You” bonus totaling over $500 million for all front-line employees and partners who were with the company throughout the month of June;
— enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures;
— distribution of personal protective gear, such as masks for employees, and disinfectant spraying and temperature checks;
— two weeks paid time off for workers diagnosed with COVID-19 in addition to their other paid and unpaid time off options;
— a $25 million relief fund for partners (e.g. delivery drivers) and seasonal associates facing financial hardship or quarantine.