As counties begin to lift stay at home restrictions, factory workers are increasingly susceptible to contracting COVID 19, as it is very challenging to social distance in a production line. Measures involving taking the temperature of workers and distancing during breaks have been employed, yet little has changed regarding the close proximity workers are in on the production line itself. Many of amazon’s workers have chosen to voice their concerns regarding the warehouse conditions, and most of those who have spoken up have been fired or warned that this is intolerable. Emily Cunningham, one of amazon’s workers who spoke up, said that “the delivery of non essential items- like rubber chickens and ping pong balls- are being prioritized over the safety of workers”. She was subsequently fired for “repeatedly violating internal policies”. Additionally troubling is that the hazard pay that these workers had been receiving expires in a few days, and amazon has not announced a plan to extend this additional pay.
Similarly, Elon Musk of Tesla is furious with the closure of Tesla’s factory in the San Francisco bay area, and has stated that society’s response to the pandemic is “dumb” and “fascist”. He threatened to move the factory out of California, sued the county in federal court, and later reopened it prior to the county’s lifting of restrictions. This is another situation in which employees are put in a difficult position, as they were instructed that they would not be paid if they had already used their time off and that they may not receive unemployment benefits. It’s clear that the heads of these profit guzzling industries place profits over people and that the most vulnerable group to retrieving COVID19 may soon be essential workers.