Washington, October 22: Workers of Amazon in the United States have threatened to shut down all warehouses for a brief period on Halloween, October 31, if the company does not grant a paid leave to vote in the upcoming US presidential election on November 3. Amazon has more than 6,00,000 workers in America. The demand, which is being raised by a group called Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, has recieved support from more than 6,500 Amazon corporate and tech workers. US Presidential Debate 2020: Mics to be Muted in Final Debate Between Donald Trump & Joe Biden, Candidates to be Muted When the Other Has the Floor to Stop Interruptions.
The group has called for other organizations to help close Amazon warehouses around the country for 15 minutes on Halloween by blocking the exits used by the company's trucks and vans, according to a report by the New York Times. In response, they got a yes from 350 Seattle, an environmental organizing group, and the King County Labor Council, a coalition of unions in the Seattle area, the report said. Amazon Says Nearly 20,000 Front-Line US Workers Tested Positive for COVID-19.
"It is really to disrupt work for the day, for at least 15 minutes, and to hold space and send a message that this is a very critical election," Valerie Costa, the interim executive director of 350 Seattle, was quoted as saying. "We think it is really important that the country’s second-largest employer gives time off to vote given that people are waiting in line for hours to vote," she added. Amazon was ranked second by Forbes on its newly released World's Best Employers 2020 list.
The company has not reacted to the demand by a section of workers. "We’ve gotten zero responses… crickets," said the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice. Last week, Jaci Anderson, a spokesperson of Amazon, said workers in states with in-person voting can seek permission for time off at the start or end of their shifts to vote. However, she said how many hours they’re allowed, and whether they’ll be paid, will depend on state law.
Many states in the United States have rules in place that mandate employers to relieve their employees for a few hours if voting coincides with work schedules. But states such as Florida and Pennsylvania do not have such rules for employers, meaning employees may have to skip voting in order to attain their duties.