The Amazon worker who was fired after calling for better warehouse safety standards led a protest in front of Jeff Bezos’ New York City apartment

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  • Dozens of protesters gathered outside of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ New York City apartment on Sunday to demand better pay and improved safety at Amazon’s warehouses.
  • The protest was organised by a group called Congress Of Essential Workers and was led by Christian Smalls, a former Amazon worker who was fired after he helped organise a walkout to protest how the company was cleaning its facilities and treating warehouse workers at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The protesters issued a list of demands, including sick pay, hazard pay, and healthcare for workers, an increase in hourly wages, and better communication and transparency regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the workplace.
  • Amazon has seen a surge in demand during the pandemic, reporting $US88.9 billion in sales in the second quarter. Bezos’ own fortune has skyrocketed to $US187 billion.
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Protesters gathered in front of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ New York City apartment on Sunday, calling for better safety and fair pay for Amazon warehouse workers.

The protest, which was organised by a group called the Congress Of Essential Workers, drew a crowd with signs calling for lawmakers to “Tax Bezos” and pointing out that numerous Amazon fulfillment centre workers have died from COVID-19, the coronavirus disease, as Bezos’ fortune has risen.

The protesters issued a list of demands in advance of the protest, calling for better treatment for essential workers, including sick pay and hazard pay, healthcare for full-time workers, an increase in hourly wages, and better communication and transparency regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the workplace.

The group also called on companies to “declare a stance of neutrality on unionization” and demanded legislators institute a wealth tax on the richest 3% of Americans.

The protesters were led by Christian Smalls, a former assistant manager at an Amazon fulfillment centre in Staten Island, New York. Smalls was fired after he helped organise a walkout in protest of how the company was cleaning its facility after an employee tested positive for coronavirus. Smalls said at the time that he was fired in retaliation for organising the protest; Amazon denied this.

Amazon fulfillment centres throughout the US were hit by the coronavirus. At lease eight workers died from COVID-19 as of mid-May, and there were confirmed cases at more than 100 Amazon warehouses. Amazon initially introduced a $US2 hourly raise for workers at the start of the pandemic and offered unlimited unpaid time off, but the company has since ended both policies.

Amazon has seen a surge in demand since the pandemic first forced most in-person retail to shut down. The company reported $US88.9 billion in sales in the second quarter and a record quarterly profit. Bezos’ net worth, already the highest in the world, has ballooned to $US187 billion during the pandemic. He recently added a record $US13 billion to his fortune in a single day.

Sunday’s protest took place outside of 212 Fifth Avenue, an apartment building overlooking Madison Square Park in Manhattan. Bezos reportedly owns nearly $US100 million worth of real estate in the building, including a $US16 million unit he is said to have purchased in April.