Supply Chain Workers Fighting for Workplace Dignity amid Systemic Racism and Injustice

Protecting Supply Chain Workers, Their Families and Communities

Dear Friends,

We are writing to you to let you know about a lawsuit that Towards Justice, with our colleagues and collaborators from Make the Road New York, Public Justice, and Terrell Marshall, filed on behalf of several courageous Amazon workers and their family members in federal court in New York earlier this week (read the complaint here and coverage of the case here, here, and here).

Our clients allege that Amazon’s operations at its JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island, NY are inconsistent with state law and public health guidance. We allege that Amazon’s conduct has contributed to the spread of COVID-19 among workers at the plant and in their communities. Dozens of workers have already gotten sick and at least one has died. The plaintiffs seek an injunction to force Amazon to comply with public health guidance.

This lawsuit comes amid an historic outcry from communities experiencing persistent brutality inflicted by a justice system forged by centuries of racism and oppression. Our clients are battling against many of those same forces. The spread of COVID-19 has been shaped by systemic racism. That reality is borne out by the data, and it is part of the lived experience of tens of millions of Americans.

Most of the plaintiffs in the Amazon case are low- and middle-income Black people who live in and around New York City. While describing the terror of working in conditions likely to make them and their families sick, some have also remarked as an aside that they have attended several “zoom funerals” over the past few months to mourn those they have already lost to this pandemic.

Many of you reading this email have not been attending many “zoom funerals.” But for many others, that terrible grief has become a fact of life. Millions of Americans have had to endure that grief while suffering devastating job losses, often without access to the social safety nets that are in theory supposed to support us, or while having to continue working in low-paying dangerous jobs upon which their survival depends. Like so much else in America, your experience of this pandemic is determined in large part by your race. Now, after some communities have suffered the terrible consequences of a pandemic fanned by the flames of structural racism, they are forced to cry out for justice once again in the face of pervasive police brutality.

No lawsuit can fix our broken system. But we are honored to represent our courageous clients in seeking some modicum of  workplace dignity from one of the wealthiest corporations in  the world. Like so much else, that is something worth fighting for.

Onward,

David Seligman, Executive Director
&
Juno Turner, Director of Litigation

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Our litigators help workers advance legal claims that address systemic injustice. We use antitrust, anti-slavery, fraud, wage-and-hour, and common-law challenges to address the wide variety of practices that nickel-and-dime low-wage workers out of their hard-earned wages. We have represented a hundred thousand childcare workers alleging wage suppression, tens of thousands of immigrant detainees alleging forced labor, and hundreds of construction workers, shepherds, manicurists, janitors, and kitchen hood cleaners. We are leaders in challenging anti-competitive practices that reduce worker bargaining power and support marginalized people who challenge structural impediments to their advancement.

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