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PODCAST: Why Worker Strikes May Proliferate In Warehouses

In this series, Make Yourself At Home, we are hearing from members of the commercial real estate industry about how they are managing this new reality and gaining insight into their day-to-day approaches. You can subscribe on iTunesSpotify and Amazon Music.

An Amazon employee wearing a face mask at a company fulfillment center.

In this episode, we hear from Bisnow New York reporter Kelsey Neubauer about the labor resurgence around e-commerce distribution centers.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced the world to stay at home, the world of e-commerce experienced an unprecedented boom. Soon, people who kept working to make these online orders happen started reporting cases of illness at distribution centers — and complaining that their employers were not doing what they should to keep them safe.

At the same time, there were more protests and worker walkouts at logistics facilities across the country. This week, Bisnow published a piece looking at where these outbreaks are emerging, how the regulatory body has handled them, and whether the blowback could result in a new labor movement in the United States.

Neubauer co-wrote the story with Atlanta reporter Jarred Schenke; she said there were 171 complaints lodged with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about working conditions at warehousing and distribution center workers — but it’s not just through complaints that workers are voicing their concerns.

"People felt they had to choose between going to work every day and risking their lives, in some cases, and their livelihood,” she said on the podcast. “Even with coronavirus, [one particular survey] found 14% of logistics workers would come to work sick.”