On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Amazon — specifically the company’s treatment of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic — became the target of Oliver’s derision. Conditions at an Amazon facility in Staten Island were so bad that a walk-out was organized, for which an employee, Chris Smalls, was fired. While Amazon claimed Smalls was fired because he broke quarantine, an ulterior motive was soon discovered.
“According to Amazon, he was fired for putting the health and safety of others at risk by violating social-distancing guidelines and an order to quarantine,” Oliver said. “But leaked notes from an internal meeting days later, at which [Jeff] Bezos himself was present, show the company’s leadership discussing plans to make Smalls the face of the entire union/organizing movement since, ‘He’s not smart or articulate.’ Which, holy s**t that is so racist. I can’t even point out how smart and articulate Smalls is without also sounding racist.”
Oliver also ripped Amazon’s paid sick leave policy, which many workers feel isn’t enough. Amazon offers two weeks of paid leave for those who are diagnosed with COVID-19, but as Oliver pointed out, testing is nearly impossible to come by in many locations, like New York City.
“Testing in New York is so scarce,” Oliver said, “Amazon’s plan may as well have been you get double pay and healthcare for your whole family if you can guess what number Jeff Bezos is thinking.”
Amazon has recently moved to create their own lab for employee COVID-19 tests after the number of employees testing positive for the virus has continued to climb.
“Amazon will say they’ve now made their sick leave policy more lenient for their ‘heroes,’ which is true,” Oliver said. “What’s also true is that only came after they got a letter from 14 state attorneys general saying their initial policy was inadequate to protect the public health.” And Oliver joined House Democrats in calling for Congress to enact more protections for all workers going forward.
“Congress absolutely needs to mandate all businesses provide paid sick leave in their next coronavirus aid bill on a permanent basis, as well as require they provide significant hazard pay for any worker being asked to risk their lives, because that risk is very, very real,” Oliver said. “Grocery store workers are dying of this disease right now, and so far, we’ve lost 41 transit workers in New York City alone.”
Watch John Oliver torch GOP governors and Jared Kushner for their responses to the coronavirus:
For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides.
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle's newsletter.