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Walmart, Amazon, and Target Workers Plan Walk Out on Friday

Essential workers at major retailers bringing attention to unsafe conditions amid COVID-19.
walmart storefront

Workers at some of the nation's largest retail and delivery companies are reportedly planning to walk off their jobs on May 1 in what could be the largest coordinated protest of working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

First reported by The Intercept, who called it an "unprecedented coalition of workers," staffers at some of the biggest brands affected by the spike in business as a result of many Americans' newfound consumption habits during the stay at home guidelines designed to abate the coronavirus outbreak.

The Intercept reports that workers from "Amazon, Instacart, Whole Foods, Walmart, Target, and FedEx are slated to walk out on work, citing what they say is their employers' record profits at the expense of workers' health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic."

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The protest is being organized by a Whole Foods employee named Daniel Steinbrook. The Intercept reports:

"We are acting in conjunction with workers at Amazon, Target, Instacart and other companies for International Worker's Day to show solidarity with other essential workers in our struggle for better protections and benefits in the pandemic," said Daniel Steinbrook, a Whole Foods employee and strike organizer.

The labor action comes as workers and organizers say Amazon, in particular, has not been forthcoming about the number of Covid-19 cases at its more than 175 fulfillment centers globally.

The Intercept also cites an Indiana-based Amazon employee named Jana Jumpp, who claims that "there have been at least 500 coronavirus cases in at least 125 Amazon facilities." Amazon employees in Staten Island planned a similar protest in March that garnered some attention, but nothing at this level.

Those on the front line of the spread of the COVID-19 contagion have literally risked their lives by continuing to fulfill their essential tasks. Whether it is processing orders in warehouses, delivering goods at people's front doors, stocking shelves or checking out grocery store shoppers, increased interaction with others has increased the chances of getting the potentially deadly coronavirus. Dozens of grocery store employees have already succumbed to the deadly virus, and Walmart has even faced a wrongful death lawsuit as a result.

Many national chains have instituted policies to protect staff and shoppers alike. Critics claim that the benefits for workers, however, are rather small compared to the public health risks they face. $2 an hour raises, free health screenings and free gloves and masks are a good start but pale in comparison to the real health risks each worker faces.

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