Hundreds March on Bezos’ House to Demand Justice for Amazon Workers
Hundreds of protesters marched on Jeff Bezos’ Beverly Hills home on Oct. 4. Speaking before the crowd and extensive media, labor organizer Chris Smalls said, “Amazon has probably downplayed the number of employees that have tested positive for coronavirus, but released figures are 20,000. … COVID-19 has amplified the unemployment crisis in the U.S. We read about a new horror story every day about a system that was never built for us.”
He further added that the job of the demonstrators and organizers is to do this for the youth, to give them a future.
Smalls blasted the firing of dozens of activists at Amazon who have been trying to form a union or just stand up for their rights. “Bezos is making $4000 a second and he can’t give us a living wage? He is the richest man in the world.”
Kahlila Williams, a 16-year-old high school student, leader of Students Deserve, eloquently explained that “Youth are fighting for black lives in our schools, where 25% of the school police arrests and charges are against blacks, while only 8% of the student population is black.”
Smalls blasted the firing of dozens of activists at Amazon who have been trying to form a union or just stand up for their rights.
She called for defunding the police and added that “Bezos does not care about our communities or his workers at Amazon. This corporation must be heavily taxed to fund public schools. It is time I got a full-time nurse in my school.” This was one of the unfulfilled contract demands of the United Teachers Los Angeles 2019 strike, even though it was agreed upon by the Los Angeles Unified School District. She further urged everyone to vote for Proposition 15 on the November ballot.
Before the march to the Bezos $125 million palace, other speakers condemned the system “that isn’t broken, but was designed this way so that we don’t even empathize, with our own species. We cannot give in to fear. It is time to reclaim the dignity of human life,” said Smalls of Extinction Rebellion.
Smalls is a former employee of Amazon at the company’s warehouse at JFK International Airport and was actively organizing workers to push the company to improve working conditions when the coronavirus was rapidly spreading.
Previously interviewed for Random Lengths, he explained to the crowd of 250, the background of his firing. He and his coworkers had gone to management to demand personal safety equipment, and instead, he was fired. Internal correspondence leaked by a top Amazon official had management denounce him in racist terminology.
On May 1, nationwide and international demonstrations took place at Amazon, FedEx, Whole Foods and Instacart demanding safety equipment for employees and a union.
His campaign since then with nationwide speaking engagements and rallies in several states, has been to help protect Amazon workers, win higher wages for them, and expose the obscene profits that Bezos reaps off the labor of the 1 million workers employed in the United States. He spoke at the ILWU organized rally on June 16 in Oakland as part of the West Coast shut down of 29 ports to protest killings by cops.
To further these efforts, he has formed The Essential Workers Organizing Committee (TEWOC), that sponsored the rally here, along with a few other organizations.
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