2 Amazon workers die within hours of each other after being denied sick leave

Two Amazon workers from a US facility reportedly died last month, one of them suffering a stroke shortly after his request to go home was denied. 

Despite the deaths, workers at the warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama were told to carry on working as usual, according to two of the man’s co-workers who spoke to workers’ rights organisation More Perfect Union.

The Amazon workers reportedly died within hours of each other on November 28 and 29. One of them died at the facility and one after being transported away from work in an ambulance. 

Workers allege that six people have died at the facility this year alone and Amazon is trying to cover it up.

In a video interview shared on Twitter, Amazon day-shift worker Isaiah Thomas claimed that the man who suffered a stroke ‘had died on the job’ while working a night shift.

‘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.

This is not the first time Amazon has come under fire for the treatment of its workers. In its video, More Perfect Union noted the company did not respond to its requests.

The workers at this particular warehouse in Bessemer attempted to unionise in April in response to dangerous working conditions and unfair scheduling but the effort was defeated with 1798 votes against 738. 

The National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon illegally interfered with the union vote by intimidating workers, and ordered a revote on November 29 — the same day one of the Bessemer warehouse workers reportedly died. 

Amazon worker Perry Connelly told More Perfect Union that the worker who had a stroke was reportedly inside a trailer when he died. His body allegedly wasn’t found for nearly 20 minutes, when someone realised he hadn’t been seen in a while.

In the interview, both Amazon workers said that their managers instructed the staff to continue working despite the deaths.

‘They actually come around and tell people not to talk about it, and go back to work,’ said Connelly. 

He went on to say that some of the workers that worked directly with the deceased worker were badly shaken up and wanted to go home but were not allowed to.

‘There’s no shutdown, there’s no moment of silence, there’s no time to sit and have a prayer,’ said Connelly.

‘You’re a body. Once that body’s used up, they’ll just bring somebody else in and do the work,’ he said.

Earlier this month, the death of six Amazon workers after a warehouse collapsed during a tornado in Illinois, brought to light the company’s working conditions. 

Amazon has also been repeatedly criticised for the high rate of injuries in its warehouses with an alleged almost 80 per cent 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,’ More Perfect Union’s executive director Faiz Shakir told Mashable. 

Amazon workers in Bessemer are set to vote again in 2022 to form the company’s first US union.

Metro has reached out to Amazon for comment.

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