A fire broke out in Amazon’s only unionized warehouse in Staten Island, New York on Monday, so workers organized a stoppage at the facility. CNN reported that about 50 warehouse workers were suspended with pay one day later.
Connor Spence, one of the now-suspended workers, told CNN that when the fire broke out, the whole facility was evacuated and day workers were sent home. However, when those who work the night shift arrived, they weren’t told exactly what was going on, and managers ultimately ordered them to get back to work, Spence told the outlet.
“The issue that people had was the building still reeked with smoke; it was difficult to breathe at some workstations,” Spence said, per CNN. “We wanted to be sent home with pay because it was unsafe.”
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Spence estimated that about 100 people participated in an organized stoppage and demanded they be sent home with pay due to unsafe working conditions. Spence said they decided to walk out when it became “clear” that their pleas weren’t being heard.
“The FDNY certified the building is safe, and at that point we asked all night shift employees to report to their regularly scheduled shift,” Paul Flaningan, an Amazon spokesperson, told CNN. “While the vast majority of employees reported to their workstations, a small group refused to return to work and remained in the building without permission.”
Following the incident, Spence told CNN that about 50 workers have been suspended from the facility with pay until Amazon investigates the episode.
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