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Amazon worker, 59, is SIXTH staffer die of coronavirus

por Theo Lajoie (2020-06-23)

A New York Amazon warehouse staffer has been revealed to be the sixth employee to die of coronavirus during the pandemic. 

%25C6%25C4%25BF%25F6%25BA%25BC%25BA%25D0This comes as Amazon workers demand that the tech company reveal its data on coronavirus infections, deaths and recoveries among staff. 

George Leigh, 59, died of coronavirus on April 9 in Long Island after he reportedly began to feel ill in late March.

'We are saddened by the loss of an associate who had worked at our site in Bethpage, New York. His family and loved ones are in our thoughts,' said Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski in a statement.  

George Leigh (pictured), an Amazon sort associate and learning ambassador, is the sixth employee to die of COVID-19

Pictured: DNY4, an Amazon distribution center in  Bethpage, New York, where Georgie Leigh worked before he died on April 9





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CNBC News reports that George was a sort associate and learning ambassador at DNY4.

In addition to sorting packages and pallets, George's job involved training new employees.  

It's unclear when George contracted the virus, but Amazon said he was last inside DNY4, a distribution center in Bethpage, on March 28.  

On that day, George told a manager he was feeling tired and 'needed to go home and rest,' according to George's brother, Todd Leigh. 

Amazon has disputed that claim and maintained that George never contacted the warehouse to say he felt sick.

George was soon rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center after his symptoms became increasingly severe and he said he couldn't breath. 

He is survived by one daughter, several grandchildren, his sibling and a mother. 

A GoFundMe has been created by George's family to raise money for funeral costs and other expenses. 

Amazon said when DNY4 employees spoke to the Leighs, they never said George died of coronavirus and only suggested he may have had it.

But Todd said the Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center medical examiner confirmed that George died of complications of the virus. 

Amazon has not revealed how many warehouse employees have died from coronavirus in the United States, but there have been at least five other deaths across the country. 

George Leigh,59,  is the sixth Amazon employee to die of COVID-19 during the pandemic. Pictured: A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest outside of an Amazon warehouse

Several Amazon warehouse staffers have protested in recent weeks over an alleged lapse in worker safety amid the pandemic 

Two were in California, with deaths also in Illinois, New York and Indiana. 

The total number of employee infections have also been withheld, prompting Amazon workers to keep an unofficial count of nationwide cases. 

It has also sparked a series of protests among staffers who have demanded Amazon implement better safety measures to fight the coronavirus.  

Jana Jumpp, an Amazon worker from Indiana who has kept tally of coronavirus cases, said at least 900 employees have contracted the virus. At least 10 had died, she said.

Pressure to reveal the full scope of the coronavirus's impact on Amazon workers has ratcheted up in recent weeks.  

On Tuesday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey were asked by 13 U.S. Senators for a state-by-state breakdown of COVID-19 cases at the company's facilities. 

Dave Clark, Amazon's Senior Vice President of Operations, told 60 minutes on Sunday that he did not know the total number of infections at the company. 

'I don't have the number right on me at this moment because it's not a particularly useful number,' he said, adding that infection rates are 'generally just under' those found in nearby communities.

Todd Leigh told CNBC News that he doesn't agree with Clark's opinion that sharing that data wouldn't be 'useful.'

He believed it's an attempt by Amazon to 'shirk' responsibility for any coronavirus-related infections or deaths during the pandemic.  

Dave Clark (pictured), Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations, said the total number of coronavirus infections among the company was not a 'particularly useful number'

George (pictured) reportedly began feeling ill in late March and asked to leave his shift at Amazon, but the company said he never alerted them of any illness

George (pictured) is survived by one daughter, several grandchildren, his sibling and a mother

He and other family members have asked Amazon to investigate the circumstances surrounding George's death and the health conditions at DNY4. 

Todd revealed he became concerned over his brother's safety in the last remaining weeks of his life. 

George continued to work at Amazon during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in New York, which has recorded 343,051 confirmed cases and 22,170 deaths. 

The United States has amassed 1,444,022 cases and a shocking death toll of 86,228. 

Amazon began providing face masks to employees on April 4 and required all staffers to wear then on April 10. 

New York became the country's epicenter for coronavirus cases as early as March.  

George managed to obtain a face mask during his last week of work, but Todd suspects his brother was already infected by that point.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (pictured) was asked by 13 US Senators for a state-by-state breakdown of COVID-19 cases at the company

 As a part of his job, George came into contact with new employees nearly every day for training at the Long Island warehouse.

This made it 'almost impossible' to practice social distancing guidelines, said Todd. 

Amazon announced that it doubled down on worker safety by lowering to size of new training groups and ???????? slowing down the introduction of new workers at warehouse sites.

Additionally, the company introduced deep cleaning at facilities, as well as hand sanitizer and face masks for employees.

Even so, George reportedly felt the multi-billion dollar company could have done more to shield employees from the virus while on the job.

While home sick, George contemplated if he would ever return to his job at Amazon.

'He was so afraid. Before that, he questioned [going to work]. But he had bills to pay, so he said, "I've got my gloves, I'm going to do my job and try to stay safe"',' Todd said.

Todd has since written a letter to Bezos about his concerns and filed a complaint with the New York Department of Labor.  

'What we're really trying to do is shed some light on not just what happened to us, but Amazon's practices,' said Todd.

'If someone at Amazon would just take a minute and look at the situation, they might be able to make a difference. But at this point, the feeling that I get is they don't really care.'


Amazon says it will END hazard pay in June for its warehouse employees who received extra $2 an hour and double overtime during the pandemic
Amazon will extend hazard pay to warehouse workers through the end of this month but will reinstate normal wages for frontline employees beginning in June, the online retailer has confirmed.

In mid-March, the company started paying its warehouse and delivery employees in the United States an extra $2 an hour as well as double overtime pay.

The company also announced similar increases for warehouse staff in Canada, the United Kingdom, and several countries on the European continent.

Initially, the first wage hike was due to expire at the end of April, but the company extended it until May 16.

An Amazon associate places a label on a package at the newest Amazon Robotics fulfillment center in Orlando on April 12. Amazon announced on Thursday that it will only extend hazard pay for its warehouse employees until the end of this month

While tens of millions of Americans have filed for unemployment benefits and businesses nationwide have been forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 crisis, shares of Amazon are up about 28 per cent compared to the same period last year

Despite widespread unemployment, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has seen his net worth grow during the pandemic. He is seen above in Maryland in September 2018

Amazon now say that it will extend it another two weeks before shelving it completely.

‘We're going to do one more extension on it and push it out until the end of the month,' Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations, told Recode.

‘We continue to see incredible demand from customers right now and … our team's response in coming back to work has been really great as well,' Clark said.

‘We think it's the right thing for employees and the right thing for customers to keep it on for a couple of weeks.'

A spokesperson for Amazon told ‘We've extended the increased hourly pay through May 30. We are also extending double overtime pay in the U.S. and Canada.

‘These extensions increase our total investment in pay during COVID-19 to nearly $800 million for our hourly employees and partners.

‘In addition, we are providing flexibility with leave of absence options, including expanding the policy to cover COVID-19 circumstances, such as high-risk individuals or school closures.

‘We continue to see heavy demand during this difficult time and the team is doing incredible work for our customers and the community.'

Amazon said it will spend some $4billion on COVID-19-related costs, including wage increases, purchasing additional safety gear for workers and building out its coronavirus testing capabilities, among other things.

Pro-labor advocates were outraged by the announcement.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont, tweeted: ‘Here's unfettered capitalism at work.

‘Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, has increased his wealth by $30 billion during the pandemic.

‘His response: end the hazard pay increases that Amazon warehouse workers have received, despite hundreds of them being infected with the virus.'

Workers are seen protesting outside of Amazon's Staten Island fulfillment center, known within the company as JFK8, on May 1. An employee at the warehouse has died of COVID-19, the company revealed earlier this month

Senator Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont, tweeted: ‘Here's unfettered capitalism at work. Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, has increased his wealth by $30 billion during the pandemic. His response: end the hazard pay increases that Amazon warehouse workers have received, despite hundreds of them being infected with the virus.'

According to Forbes, Bezos, the Amazon CEO who is also the world's richest man, has a net worth of $142.7billion as of Thursday.

In February, Bezos' net worth was $130billion.

During the first quarter of 2020, Amazon sales exceeded $75billion due to extremely high demand, particularly since Americans nationwide were confined to their homes and did much of their shopping online.

While tens of millions of Americans have filed for unemployment benefits and businesses nationwide have been forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 crisis, shares of Amazon are up about 28 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Amazon isn't the only blue-chip company that is ending hazard pay for its employees even though the pandemic persists nationwide.

Kroger Co. is rescinding the $2-an-hour raise that it gave to its store and warehouse employees beginning this Sunday.

Target is also doing away with its $2-an-hour hazard pay arrangement for frontline workers beginning at the start of June.

Starbucks gave its employees a month of paid leave after shuttering thousands of stores.

Those workers who kept manning drive-through windows that stayed open received a raise of $3 an hour. That, too, however, is ending at the end of May.

Amazon has drawn scrutiny from government officials over complaints about unsanitary conditions in warehouses and fulfillment centers where frontline employees have been infected with the coronavirus.

A group of 13 attorneys general on Tuesday asked Amazon to provide data on coronavirus-related deaths and infections among its workforce, along with evidence of the company's compliance with paid sick leave laws.

In a letter, the officials asked for a state-by-state breakdown of the number of Amazon workers, including those at Whole Foods, who have been infected or died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The letter, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, was joined by states including Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

The same group of attorneys general had written to the company in March asking it to improve its paid-leave policy.

On Tuesday, they asked for assurance that Amazon would not retaliate against workers who raise concerns about health and safety issues with management, the media, co-workers or relevant government agencies.

In a statement, Amazon said it is committed to ensuring a safe workplace and has implemented over 150 changes, including distributing face masks to warehouse workers.

Workers protest against the failure from their employers to provide adequate protections in the workplace of the Amazon delivery hub on National May Day Walkout/Sickout by workers in Hawthorne, California

‘We´ll continue to invest in safety, pay, and benefits for our teams who are playing an invaluable role in getting items to communities around the world,' an Amazon spokesperson said on Tuesday.

In recent weeks, Amazon has fired at least four workers for raising concerns about workplace safety.

The company has previously said the workers were let go for violating internal company protocol.

In March, New York Attorney General Letitia James called for an investigation after Amazon fired employee Chris Smalls after he organized a walkout of workers at a Staten Island warehouse.

Smalls claimed the company was failing to take precautions to protect warehouse staff from COVID-19, and said that between 50 and 60 employees at the facility had contracted the illness.

An employee who worked at that same fulfillment center died of COVID-19. 

Earlier this month, Tim Bray, an engineer who held the position of vice president at Amazon Web Services, quit his job ‘in dismay' at the firing of Smalls and five other whistleblowers who raised concerns about unsafe working conditions during the pandemic.

Bray announced he was leaving the online retail giant after more than five years, citing the 'vein of toxicity running through the company culture'.

Tim Bray, pictured, an engineer who held a senior position at Amazon Web Services, announced earlier this month that he quit his job 'in dismay' at the firing of whistleblowers who raised concerns about unsafe warehouse working conditions amid coronavirus

A message is painted by activists on the street outside of one of homes of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Washington on April 29

He also slammed the tech giant's actions as 'chickens**t'.

On May 1, hundreds of workers from Amazon joined colleagues from its subsidiary, Whole Foods, as well as employees from Instacart, Target, and Walmart in a mass ‘sick-out' to protest unsafe working conditions.

Pictures taken outside an Amazon fulfillment center on that afternoon, showed workers brandishing placards which read 'Capitalism Is The Virus' and 'Capitalism Kills'.

Amazon say: 'We respect the rights of employees to protest and recognize their legal right to do so, but these rights do not provide blanket immunity against bad actions, particularly those that endanger the health, well-being or safety of their colleagues.

'While we respect people's right to express themselves, we object to the irresponsible actions of labor groups in spreading misinformation and making false claims about Amazon during this unprecedented health and economic crisis.

'What's true is that masks, temperature checks, hand sanitizer, increased time off, increased pay, and more are standard across our Amazon and Whole Food Market networks already.' 


Read more:

Sixth confirmed Amazon worker dies

Examining Amazon's treatment of its workers - 60 Minutes - CBS News

Fundraiser by Jasmine Leigh : George Leigh Celebration of Life