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Workers at Amazon — along with several other major companies — went on strike on Friday, calling for better working conditions. Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

Workers at Walmart, Amazon and beyond strike for better conditions

Janet Nguyen May 1, 2020
Workers at Amazon — along with several other major companies — went on strike on Friday, calling for better working conditions. Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

While the working class is supposed to be celebrated on International Workers Day, many of its members haven’t been feeling that way.

Employees at Walmart, Amazon, Whole Foods, Instacart, Target, Shipt, and FedEx walked off the job today, demanding greater support during the coronavirus pandemic, including more protective equipment, hazard pay and paid sick leave. 

At least two Whole Foods workers and at least one Amazon warehouse worker have died due to COVID-19 infection. (Amazon is the parent company of Whole Foods.)

Groups of workers within these companies are asking customers to refrain from buying their employers’ products or using their services.

Since the pandemic started, frontline workers have launched a series of strikes or walkouts to improve their working conditions. In an emailed statement sent today, Amazon said it plans to spend more than $800 million in the first half of the year on COVID-19 safety measures.

Tensions are also rising at food production plants, where The Wall Street Journal reported that union officials and worker advocates are fighting for paid leave.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump invoked his authority under the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open. Some of these plants have closed after becoming hot spots for COVID-19.

There are now more than 1 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 64,100 deaths in the U.S., according to The New York Times. However, data on the death toll from different parts of the U.S. reveals disparities among demographic groups.

Black and Latino Americans, who disproportionately make up the country’s frontline workers, are dying at higher rates than their white and Asian peers.

Despite the spread of the virus, some organizations and right-wing protestors in California and Oregon are using this day to call for the “reopening” of America. Some states are already beginning to lift their stay-at-home orders, including Georgia and Colorado.

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