According to a report by BusinessInsider.com, over 30 employees who work at one of the Amazon facilities in Carteret have tested positive for COVID-19. Amazon has yet to report on the severity of the outbreak in their facility. It is clear that this outbreak is contributing to the increased numbers of COVID-19 in Carteret and the surrounding area. This is disturbing on every level and is unacceptable by all standards.
Many Amazon employees have communicated about the potentially hazardous working condition they are exposed to, including unsafe distances between workers, lack of protective gloves, face masks, and eyewear, and fear of retaliation for use of sick time. Amazon’s policy of unlimited unpaid time off for its employees will soon be terminated on April 30th, leaving workers fearing for their safety and jobs.
By choosing profits over people, Amazon has now placed both in danger. These employees aren’t drones, they are people and Amazon treats them like hearded sheep.
I am calling on the New Jersey Department of Health and the Middlesex County Health Department to temporarily shut down this Amazon facility until all workers are tested for COVID-19 and the entire building is thoroughly and properly sanitized. I am calling on OSHA to inspect this facility and demand that Amazon provide proper safety equipment such as gloves, masks, eyewear, and sanitizers to its employees.
Multiple large scale distributors across the country, including Tyson in Indiana and Smithfield in South Dakota, have done exactly that – shut down their facilities, tested their employees, and sanitized their buildings to create a safer environment.
I encourage all employees who are subject to unsafe work conditions during the current COVID-19 pandemic to report their employer to the state hotline at 211 and alert the county health department at 732-745-3100.
Mayor Daniel J. Reiman