FLUSHING, Queens — Mayor Bill de Blasio said he wanted to investigate the firing of Chris Smalls, who said he helped organize the Amazon walkout and strike on Staten Island Monday.
The mayor was speaking at a press conference in Flushing Tuesday and brought it up in his prepared remarks.
“We heard from Staten Island, from the Amazon fulfillment center, a specific charge that a worker who raised health and safety concerns, raised social distancing concerns was fired,” said de Blasio. “The allegation is because he spoke up for the safety of his fellow workers, he was fired. I have ordered the City’s Commission on Human Rights to investigate Amazon immediately, to determine if that’s true.”
“If so, that’d be a violation of our City Human Rights Law, we would act on it immediately,” he added. “I should also note that the Sheriff’s Office did an inspection of the facility to ensure that social distancing is being observed and they will continue to inspect as needed.”
Amazon workers on Staten Island walked off the job Monday over what they called a lack of safety protocols to protect employees from coronavirus.
“We are the heart and soul of this building and they are going to treat us with respect,” said Derrick Palmer, who works at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island.
Amazon has kept open the JFK8 fulfillment center on Gulf Avenue in northern Staten Island despite numerous confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the protest organizers.
Smalls said he wasn’t surprised Amazon fired him.
“Amazon would rather fire workers than face up to its total failure to do what it should to keep us, our families, and our communities safe,” Smalls said. “I am outraged and disappointed, but I’m not shocked.”