Warehouse workers and the coronavirus

Warehouse workers and the coronavirus, Amazon Fulfillment Center, Interviews, News

By Zak Kozak

The sound of various machines and conveyer belts clanking is the first thing that Anthony Allen hears when he walks into the Amazon Fulfillment Center. 

He can hear the click-clack of his tattered boots as he walks along the hard concrete floor on the way to his work area. Allen oversees workers that will sort a few thousand packages a day to where they need to go. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has arose, government officials have been advising Americans to stay at home but some jobs, including warehouse workers, are considered essential and continue to function as usual. 

“They have made some changes in how we operate,” Allen, a 20-year-old supervisor, said. “We take our temperature right when we walk in and they encourage us to social distance and wear masks.” 

Allen is one of more than a million Americans that work in package delivery warehouses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Business Insider, Amazon plans on adding 75,000 jobs to help the company meet demand during the pandemic. Dr. Cigdem Ataseven is a professor in the Department of Operations and Supply Chain at Cleveland State University. 

“Delivery companies are more important now than ever because people have the ability to stay in their house and receive the goods they need rather than going to a store,” said Ataseven in an email interview. 

She also believes that there’s a correlation between more jobs being created and people buying more products online. 

“Amazon hiring such a large number of employees in a short period of time is a result of the increasing number packages going through the system,” Ataseven said. 

Jacob Ruda is a delivery warehouse worker at Merging Streams Logistics in Medina, where they gave employees the option to come into work or take a partial layoff if they do not feel safe. 

“I’m glad I had the option to stay home if I wanted to,” Ruda, who is 19, said. “More than half of my coworkers decided not to come in.” 

Ruda explains that his employer still takes sanitary precautions for the workers who decide to come into work. 

“You can see them wiping down anything that people touch on a daily basis,” he said. “I feel like they’ve done enough to make me feel comfortable to come in.” 

Back at the Amazon Fulfillment Center, Allen continues to go to work every day wearing a mask that he is given soon after making sure his temperature is at a normal level. 

“I have to work to make money,” Allen said. “I’m relying on the company to do whatever they think is needed to protect us.”