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Amazon worker died on the job after being denied sick leave, say co-workers

The workers alleged that six people died at the facility this year alone and claimed Amazon is trying to cover it up.

Amazon worker died on the job after being denied sick leave, say co-workers
BRIESELANG, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 18: A worker packs items while fulfilling orders at an Amazon warehouse on November 18, 2021 in Brieselang, Germany. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Two Amazon workers reportedly died at the company's warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, according to co-workers. One of the workers who passed away reportedly had a request for a sick leave denied following which they suffered a stroke and 'died on the job.' One of the co-workers said the company also told them to continue working as usual despite the man passing away. The co-workers spoke to the workers’ rights organization 'More Perfect Union' about the deaths that happened with hours of each other on November 28 and 29, with one of them dying at the facility, while the other passed away while being transported from work in an ambulance, reported MSN News.


"He had gone to HR and said, 'I’m not feeling so well, can I please go home?'" said Amazon day-shift worker Isaiah Thomas. "He didn’t have enough [unpaid time off] to go home… And so, they’re effectively telling him, you either go home and lose your job, or you just stay here and keep working through the pain. And that’s what he did,’ said Thomas, who added that Amazon warehouse workers feared being fired if they took time off beyond their allotted days. "If they would have just let him go home, he would be spending Christmas with his family right now," said Thomas. Workers allege that six people have died at the Bessemer facility alone in 2021, and claim the company is trying to cover it up. "They actually come around and tell people not to talk about it, and go back to work,’ said Amazon worker Perry Connelly. When one of the workers asked his manager what had happened the manager responded, "I don't know what you are talking about?"


He added that those who worked closely with the worker who had passed away were traumatized and wanted to go home. Their managers declined their requests and ordered them to continue working. "There’s no shutdown, there’s no moment of silence, there’s no time to sit and have a prayer," said Connelly, adding that the company viewed them as disposable cogs. "You’re a body. Once that body’s used up, they’ll just bring somebody else in and do the work,’ he said.


It is at the very same facility that workers tried to unionize in April against dangerous working conditions and unfair scheduling. The workers lost the vote to unionize 1798 votes against 738 but the National Labor Relations Board later found that Amazon had illegally interfered with the union vote by intimidating workers, and ordered for a revote on November 29. It was on the same day that one of the workers had reportedly died. Amazon has been heavily criticized for a high rate of injuries in its warehouses, which is allegedly 80 percent higher rate of serious injuries than at other warehouses, according to a report. "Amazon’s long history of putting their profits above their workers is exactly why their employees in Bessemer organized and tried to form a union," said More Perfect Union’s executive director Faiz Shakir, reported Mashable. The workers at the Bessemer facility are set to vote again in 2022 to form the company’s first US union.


The company's work policies also came under scrutiny as multiple workers accused the company of not letting employees go home as the deadly tornado approached their factory in Illinois. The tornado flattened the warehouse and six Amazon workers were killed. As we reported, "Amazon won't let me leave," was the final text a worker sent his wife who urged him to come home. The company also came under heavy criticism amidst reports of banning employees from having their mobile phones on them which could have alerted them of the catastrophe heading their way and provided them crucial information and time to react. Having been denied access to emergency weather alerts and contact with family members, many employees weren't warned or prepared for what was to come. 

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