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Amazon workers march to Jeff Bezos’ mansion, calling for higher wages, protections

Amazon worker Derrick Palmer, right, helps carry a banner that states, "Tax Bezos."
Amazon worker Derrick Palmer, right, helps carry a “Tax Bezos” banner during a march to Jeff Bezos’ mansion to lobby for higher wages, the right to unionize and a series of reforms in the way the company handles the COVID-19 crisis.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Demonstrators on Sunday marched to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Beverly Hills mansion, protesting company working conditions during the COVID-19 crisis and calling for higher wages, free healthcare and child care for employees.

Protesters rallied at Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills, then marched to the gates of Bezos’ home, carrying signs and chanting “Tax Bezos.”

The demonstration was sponsored by the Congress of Essential Workers, a collective of servers, teachers and warehouse employees, and led by the group’s founder, Chris Smalls, a former Amazon warehouse manager who said he was fired in March after organizing a work stoppage over the company’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You don’t need Jeff Bezos. He needs us,” he said through a bullhorn during the protest.

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Organizers released a list of demands, including that the company provide workers with adequate protective equipment and cleaning supplies, as well as an increase of $2 per hour for hazard pay.

Amazon revealed last week, after months of pressure from workers and labor groups, that nearly 20,000 of its frontline U.S. workers have tested positive or been presumed positive for the coronavirus. But the online retail giant says the infection rate of its employees is well below that seen in the general U.S. population.

Andrew Lewis, who serves on the North Westwood Neighborhood Council, said he was among about 100 people who attended the rally at the park.

“When a multibillion-dollar company is subjecting its employees to substandard working and safety conditions during a global pandemic and, as a result, transmitting COVID-19 to 20,000 employees — it goes beyond negligence,” said Lewis, adding that he has friends who work for the company. “Amazon is far and beyond the wealthiest corporation on the planet. They have the resources to keep their employees safe and healthy, and actively choose not to.”


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