Amazon employees want the company to get more involved in protecting abortion access, including by ending political donations to groups that oppose abortion, organizing its own protests against the Supreme Court’s ruling, and helping employees pay for travel in order to get safe abortion care.
Nearly 2,000 employees have signed an open letter to Amazon leadership, calling on the company to “use Amazon’s voice to publicly and emphatically denounce” the high court’s decision. Some workers called out sick in order to pressure the company.
Many of the nation’s largest employers will cover travel expenses for medical procedures that aren’t available in the employee’s home state.
The Supreme Court overturned the constitutional protections for abortion access that had been in place for nearly 50 years, and some workers and activists point out that the funds won’t extend to every Amazon worker.
Liza Fuentes is a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute and she said that it is common-sense policy for companies to make sure workers don’t have a huge disruption in their life.
She said it was a huge benefit for the workers. Many people who need abortion care don’t work for companies that do that.
In Washington, many of the state’s largest employers have committed to covering travel costs for employees who live in places where abortion services are unavailable. Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, said Friday it is weighing potential actions and figuring out the best path forward. Starbucks said it couldn’t make promises of benefits for unionized workers.
If care is not available virtually or within 100 miles of an employee’s home, Amazon will provide up to $4,000 for travel. The Supreme Court ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in half of the states. For a company like Amazon, which has corporate offices and warehouses across the country, the funds are intended to help workers who may need to travel to access care.
For employees and their dependents covered by two company-offered health plans, Amazon has a retroactive policy. Both corporate and warehouse workers have access to the funds, but not independent contractors.
The workers are asking the company to expand the scope of the benefit to include all employees. Amazon has delivery service partners who help drop off packages to customers at their doorsteps, as well as Flex drivers who use their own vehicle to make deliveries for the company.
Pressure is mounting on Amazon and other companies to expand their benefits. The union representing some workers at the parent company of Google said this week that the company is not offering support for corporate employees. The California Labor Federation, a network of labor unions, says that workers need true support, not performative headlines and fine legal print telling them why they aren’t eligible for benefits.
Requests for comment were not responded to by the internet giant. The specifics of Amazon’s policy, including who would have access to the benefit and whether warehouse associates would be given paid time off to travel for medical procedures, were not answered by the company.
In an open letter, employees asked Amazon to provide abortion pills and abortion-related care, as well as safeguard and empower abortion seekers. The workers called on Amazon to audit all of its political donations and stop donating to committees that oppose abortion.
The company’s annual meeting in May did not pass a shareholder proposal asking for a report on Amazon’s lobbying activities. According to the proposal, the company spent $18.7 million on federal lobbying in 2020 and was the largest corporate spender for the first half of 2020.
The board of directors for Amazon recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal, saying that the company has processes in place to provide oversight of its public policy activities. While we may not agree with every position of every organization we support, we believe that our support will help advance those policy objectives that are aligned with our interests, according to the board of directors.
Almost half of shareholders voted in favor of the proposal.
In an open letter this week, employees called on Amazon to donate to organizations that are working to expand abortion access, expand remote work and options for employees to relocate from states with new abortion restrictions, and stop expansion plans in states that are threatening to ban abortion.
The workers want Amazon to remove any product that encourages hate speech or violence toward abortion seekers.
At the same time, corporate employees are ramping up efforts to pressure Amazon to stop selling books that activists say are transphobic, including titles like “Desist, De Trans & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult” and “Irreversible Damage”
A worker-led group, called No Hate At Amazon, organized adie-in in June, where employees disrupted a company-sponsored Pride event to call for the removal of the books A group of people lay on the ground in front of a stage with a Pride flag around them.
In an internal messaging board, an employee asked Amazon to review “Irreversible Damage” for removal and to look into why it was approved in the first place. The book does not violate Amazon’s guidelines, as it has said in the past.
On Friday, workers fighting to remove the books and for reproductive rights took the day off and sent emails to their team members explaining their reasons.
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