Amazon employees call on the company to be more involved in protecting access to abortion, including by stopping political donations to anti-abortion groups, organizing its own protests against the Supreme Court ruling and helping all employees pay for travel to receive safe abortion care.
Nearly 2,000 employees have signed an open letter to Amazon’s leadership, calling on the company to “use Amazon’s voice to publicly and unequivocally denounce the Supreme Court’s decision.” On Friday, some workers called in sick in protest, hoping to put pressure on the company.
Amazon, like many of the country’s largest employers, has said it will cover travel costs for medical procedures, including abortion care, that are not available in an employee’s home state.
But in the week since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and repealed the constitutional protections for abortion access that had been in place for nearly half a century, some workers and activists are pointing out that those funds won’t apply to every Amazon employee. .
It is “common sense policy” for companies to ensure that employees do not experience “massive disruption in their lives” after the fall of Roe v. Wade, said Liza Fuentes, senior researcher at the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that promotes sexual and sexual health. reproductive rights.
“That’s a huge benefit for those workers,” she said. “However, what we know is that a lot of people who may need abortion care don’t work for those companies.”
In Washington, many of the state’s largest employers — Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, Alaska, T-Mobile, Zillow, Redfin, Starbucks, and others — have committed to covering travel costs for employees living in places where abortion services are not available. . Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, said Friday it was weighing possible actions and charting the best way forward, Bloomberg said. Starbucks said it could not make any guarantees about any benefits for workers in union stores.
Amazon announced in May that it would offer up to $4,000 for travel if care isn’t available virtually or within 100 miles of an employee’s home. The Supreme Court ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in nearly half of the states. For a company like Amazon, which has offices and warehouses across the country, the funds are intended to help employees who may need to travel to access care.
Amazon’s policy, backdated to January 1, is available to employees and their families covered by two health plans offered by the company. The funds are available to both corporate and warehouse employees, but not to independent contractors.
Employees ask the company to broaden “the scope” of the benefit to all Amazon employees, including contractors. Amazon has a network of delivery service partners, who help deliver packages to customers and act as independent contractors, as well as Flex drivers – gig workers who use their own vehicle to make deliveries for the company.
Amazon isn’t the only company under pressure to expand its benefits. The Alphabet Workers Union, which represents some employees of Google’s parent company Alphabet, said this week that Google provides support to corporate employees, but not “the 100,000+ contractors who make up the backbone of Google’s trillion-dollar empire.” “Employees need real support, not performative headlines and fine legal print telling them why they are not entitled to benefits,” the California Labor Federation, a network of unions, tweeted this week.
Google did not respond to requests for comment. Amazon declined to answer questions about the specifics of its policy, including who would have access to the benefit and whether warehouse workers would be given paid time off to travel for medical procedures.
In the open letter, employees also asked Amazon to expand access to services that would “protect and empower abortion seekers,” including abortion pills and abortion-related care. The workers also pushed back on Amazon’s political donations, calling on it to monitor all political donations and stop all contributions to anti-abortion committees.
A shareholder proposal asking for a report on Amazon’s lobbying activities and spending failed to pass the company’s May annual meeting. The company spent $18.7 million on federal lobbying in 2020 and was the largest corporate publisher by the first half of 2021, according to the proposal.
Amazon’s board of directors advised shareholders to vote against the proposal and said Amazon has processes in place to oversee its public policy activities. “While we may not agree with every position of every organization we support, we believe our support will help advance those policy objectives that align with our interests,” the board wrote.
The proposal narrowly failed, with 47% of the shareholders voting in favour.
In this week’s open letter, employees also called on Amazon to donate to organizations working to expand access to abortion, expand remote work and opportunities for employees to relocate from states with new abortion restrictions, and the halt expansion plans in states that ban threats of abortion.
The workers are also asking Amazon to remove all product offerings that incite hate speech or violence against abortion seekers.
The call to action comes as company employees step up efforts to pressure Amazon to stop selling books activists say are transphobic, including titles such as “Desist, Detrans & Detox: Getting Your Child Out.” of the Gender Cult” and “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze That Seduces Our Daughters.”
A worker-led group called No Hate At Amazon staged a “die-in” in June where employees disrupted a company-sponsored Pride event to call for the books to be removed. Draped in pink, blue and white flags, a group of people lay on the floor in front of a podium where representatives from Glamazon, an Amazon affinity group for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, delivered speeches under a Pride flag.
This week, in an internal message board, an employee again asked Amazon to assess “irreversible damage” for removal and to investigate why the book was approved in the first place. As it has said in the past, Amazon responded that the book does not violate the guidelines.
On Friday, workers fighting to have the books taken out and for reproductive rights sent out-of-office messages and emails to team members explaining why they were taking the day off.
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