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Amazon has promised to help workers get abortions. Some workers say it hasn't gone far enough

Lauren Rosenblatt, The Seattle Times on

Published in Political News

Workers are asking the company to “broaden the scope” of the benefit to encompass all Amazon employees, including contractors. Amazon has a network of delivery service partners, who help drop off packages to customers’ doorsteps and operate as independent contractors, as well as Flex drivers — gig workers who use their own vehicle to make deliveries for the company.

Amazon is not the only company that is facing pressure to expand its benefits. The Alphabet Workers Union, which represents some workers at Google’s parent company Alphabet, said this week Google is offering support for corporate employees but not “the 100,000+ contractors who are the backbone of Google’s trillion-dollar empire.”

“Workers need true support, not performative headlines and fine legal print telling them why they aren’t eligible for benefits,” the California Labor Federation, a network of labor unions, tweeted this week.

Google did not respond to requests for comment. Amazon declined to answer questions on the specifics of its policy, including who would have access to the benefit and whether warehouse associates would be given paid time off to travel for medical procedures.

In the open letter, employees also asked Amazon to expand access to services that would “safeguard and empower abortion seekers,” including abortion pills and abortion-related care. The workers also pushed back on Amazon’s political donations, calling on it to audit all political donations and cease any contributions to committees that oppose abortion.

A shareholder proposal asking for a report on Amazon’s lobbying activities and expenditures did not pass the company’s annual meeting in May. The company spent $18.7 million on federal lobbying in 2020 and was the largest corporate spender for the first half of 2021, according to the proposal.

Amazon’s board of directors recommended shareholders vote against the proposal, saying Amazon has processes in place to provide oversight of its public policy activities. “While we may not agree with every position of every organization that we support, we believe that our support will help advance those policy objectives that are aligned with our interests,” the board of directors wrote.

The proposal narrowly failed with 47% of shareholders voting in support.

In the open letter this week, employees also 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 cease expansion plans in states that are threatening to ban abortion.

 

The workers are also asking Amazon to remove any product offerings that could encourage hate speech or violence toward abortion seekers.

The call to action comes 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, Detrans & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult” and “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.”

A worker-led group, called No Hate At Amazon, organized a “die-in” in June, where employees disrupted a company-sponsored Pride event to call for the removal of the books. Wrapped in pink, blue and white flags, a group of people lay down on the ground in front of a stage where representatives from Glamazon, an Amazon affinity group for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, were delivering speeches under a Pride flag.

This week, in an internal messaging board, an employee again asked Amazon to review “Irreversible Damage” for removal and to look into why the book was approved in the first place.

Like it has said in the past, Amazon responded that the book does not violate its guidelines.

On Friday, workers fighting to remove the books and for reproductive rights put up out-of-office messages and sent emails to team members explaining why they took the day off.

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©2022 The Seattle Times. Visit seattletimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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