BEVERLY HILLS, CA - A coalition of labor and environmental activists plan to march to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' mansion in Beverly Hills Sunday. Protestors are calling the event "The Wrong Amazon Is Burning!" They demand higher wages, free healthcare and a series of reforms in the way the conglomerate handles COVID-19.
Demonstrators gathered at 2 p.m. at Will Rogers Memorial Park at 9650 Sunset Blvd. From there, they marched a roughly one-mile route to 1801 Angelo Drive around 3 p.m., where they planned another rally at 4 p.m. featuring several speakers.
The city of Beverly Hills tweeted at 3:53 p.m. that protesters were "marching north on Benedict Canyon Drive. Traffic may be impacted. BHPD is monitoring."
The march was organized by The Congress of Essential Workers in partnership with Chris Smalls, who worked for Amazon for five years before he was fired. Executives at the company allegedly deemed Smalls "not smart or articulate," in a leaked memo obtained by Vice News.
Smalls was fired in March shortly after he helped organize a work stoppage at the company's warehouse to protest what he called a lack of protective gear and hazard pay for employees.
Amazon said Smalls was fired for "violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk."
Organizers of Sunday's Beverly Hills rally released a long list of demands, calling on Amazon to be "transparent and honest about the number of (COVID-19) cases they have in their facilities" and asking that buildings or locations that have positive cases be shut down, professionally sanitized, and remain closed for a minimum of 14 days with full pay for all affected employees.
They are also demanding a $2-an-hour hazard pay increase, paid leave for employees who receive a COVID-19 test until the test results are confirmed, a "1-3 percent Federal Wealth Tax," and free child care and health care, among other demands.
"We demand that Jeff Bezos and the rest of the billionaire class pay their fair share to deal with the climate crisis," a TCOEW statement said. "We are calling for a decent living wage of $30/hour minimum for all Amazon employees, Medicare and childcare for all, and the right to unionize without fear of retaliation. These are just a few of the issues that we feel billionaires like Jeff Bezos, who makes nearly $4,000 a second, can absolutely help relieve or resolve."
The giant company dominates 38 percent of the e-commerce market, according to Market Watch. Shopping on Amazon between May and July, the beginning months of the pandemic, was reportedly up 60 percent according to financial data firm Facteus.
And as a result of the stay at home orders, e-commerce sales nearly doubled, jumping 92.7 percent in May, according to a June SpendingPulse report from Mastercard.
An Amazon representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the March Sunday. On its website, the company lists several steps its taken for workers related to the coronavirus pandemic, including:
Offering a special one-time "Thank You" bonus totaling over $500 million for all front-line employees and partners who were with the company throughout the month of June;
Enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures;
Distribution of personal protective gear, such as masks for employees, and disinfectant spraying and temperature checks;
Two weeks paid time off for workers diagnosed with COVID-19 in addition to their other paid and unpaid time off options;
A $25 million relief fund for partners (e.g. delivery drivers) and seasonal associates facing financial hardship or quarantine.
The City News Service and Patch Staffer Kat Schuster contributed to this report.