Amazon continues to endure intense criticism for its treatment of warehouse workers during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Late last week, Amazon fired a sixth worker who publicly protested or spoke out Against working conditions at the companies hundreds of warehouses in the US.
I'm Ben Fox Rubin with CNET in New Jersey.
Joining me are three now former Amazon employees Emily Cunningham, Maren Costa and Jerry Bryson.
All three were fired after speaking out.
Jerry, you were fired last Friday.
Tell me how long you've worked for Amazon and tell me About working conditions you were concerned about since the pandemic started.
I've been working in Amazon a year and a half exactly, to the month.
One of my concerns since this whole pandemic has happened is the lack of concern that Amazon has for you as a human being, let alone employee Employee like it's just astounding in a bad way.
For me me for instance is I mean like we walked into office before we even protested and asked him what are you guys gonna do?
People are walking in here sick every day.
We see you sending certain people out the side door and you know they tell him they would tell him employees Don't say you're sick, just go home and quarantine.
I mean, and then like when we confronted them, they were like, we'll get back to you.
It just seems to be to no end because whatever we do Amazon will cover it up, you know, with something else like they've been doing the right thing.
Like I mean, you know, I sit here every day and I look at these new commercials and I bust out laughing.
We got you know, tons of mass, and tons of tons of gloves.
But when we were protesting, they had none of that.
Okay, I want to get the other two to jump in here too.
So Emily, tell me what happened with your and Martin's fairings?
So Martin and I are both part of a group called Amazon in place for climate justice and we have been some of the most visible Public leaders in the group.
And so we had been previously warned in the fall about speaking out about Amazon's impact on the climate crisis.
But because of dozens of us speaking out to the media, 3,000 of us around the world walk out as part of the global climate strike.
8,700 of us publicly signed our names to an open letter to Jeff Bezos and our board of directors.
Asking for climate leadership.
So we had had this history of speaking out along with dozens of our fellow co-workers.
And so when we heard from firsthand from our co-workers and warehouses when they came to us and told us how afraid they were Not only for their own lives, but for their family members.
We're in the middle of both a climate crisis and a global pandemic.
And if we can't stand up for each other now, when do we,>> so Maren, do you see these firings as retaliation.
There are, at least within Amazon for employees for climate justice.
There's a large group of us who have, you know, spoken to the media.
There's, you know, 8700 Amazonians tech workers who signed their name publicly To an open letter.
So there are lots of people involved.
This is not two people.
This is not just me and Emily yet we were the most visible leaders as of Amazon employees for climate justice, and then some of the most visible leaders standing up for our warehouse worker colleagues Rights.
And so I think it absolutely was an attempt to fire two people in the effort to silence all of us.
Jerry, same question to you.>> Amazon is just getting rid of anybody who stands up against them.
These fake charges they put on us or reasonings.
Are not even in the rulebook.
You know, I mean, you know, they make up the rules as they go they add and subtract rules as they go.
So I wouldn't say also if Amazon is doing such a great job protecting warehouse workers, why were they so afraid.
To have tech workers and warehouse workers really be able to talk to each other.
And we had a plan to panel for warehouse workers to talk honestly about what it's really like on the ground and how fearful they are.
First for so many different reasons and we organize an event and someone that wasn't even Martin and I Sent out an email invitation on Friday afternoon on West Coast time.
So most of the East Coast our global offices in Europe and India and around the world hadn't even seen the invitation for tech workers to really call, you know, to listen in to this live cast that we did.
Was tech workers and renowned author Naomi Klein.
And within hours of that going out, Amazon fired both Maren and I, but it also received so much interest.
There were 1000 tech workers who had Accepted the meeting invite a 550, who attended tively accepted the invite and again, this is on a Friday afternoon.
And not only did they fire us, they went in and deleted the calendar invite so it came off of people's calendars.
So I think there's something amiss if Amazon doesn't want to even have people Hear from people on the ground about what's really happening.
Amazon doesn't care, they have shown improvement that they do not care about anybody, but how much money they're making.
Okay, I do want to get Amazon's points in here because obviously we don't have an official Amazon representative on the call.
So I do want to say Amazon has defended these fairings.
I conclude three people we're talking to right now by saying it respects workers rights to protest, but says that it doesn't offer a quote blanket immunity against any and all internal policies.
Should also mention that Amazon is not the only company dealing with COVID-19 worker infections With many major grocers, meatpacking plants and big box stores also dealing with similar issues.
Amazon has emphasized its work to protect its employees, which include more warehouse cleanings, providing gloves and masks and instituting temperature checks.
Many workers I've spoken to Jerry included, have said that this isn't enough.
Dozens of Amazon warehouses have confirmed Coronavirus cases.
Meredith, I want to ask you, what do you want Amazon customers and the general public to know about this issue especially It's actually considering that demand for Amazon deliveries is extremely high right now and the company is hiring thousands of people, to keep up with that demand.
All right I think that's a really good question because like Jerry mentioned the Amazon sorta story is really powerful.
They have it pumping out everywhere, you see the videos of Jeff Bezos walking through the warehouses and making it seem like everything is just perfect and clean and going really smoothly.
And he was so proud of how they've protected their heroes and they, Jeff himself uses that word to describe the essential frontline workers as heroes.
And Amazon is great with data They can spin a story.
And I'm not saying that we have the data, we don't, we don't have all the data.
And I get it that grocery margins are super thin and I get it that, you know, procedures it's hard to roll out new procedures and SLPs in warehouses, let alone when you're under pressure Have a pandemic.
But if the mandate from the top had been, protect our heroes at all costs, shut the warehouses down, throttle back until we have people protected, give them paid leave while we figure this out and And then reopen and go back to full throttle but instead it was maintain full throttle even with the non essential items and just keep cycling people in just bus more people and these people go down, bring more in is that the way you treat people that you call heroes.
Thanks so much to all three of you for speaking with us, we definitely appreciate your time and if you want to check out more about my Amazon coverage, go on cnet.com.