Amazon promised to help workers get abortions. Some workers say it hasn’t gone far enough
Amazon employees are calling on the company to become more involved in protecting access to abortion, including ending political donations to groups that oppose abortion, organizing its own protests against Supreme Court decision and helping all employees pay for travel to obtain safe abortion care. .
Nearly 2,000 employees signed an open letter to Amazon management, calling on the company to “use Amazon’s voice to publicly and unequivocally denounce” the High Court’s decision. On Friday, some workers called in sick in protest, hoping to put pressure on the company.
Amazon, like many of the nation’s largest employers, has said it will cover travel costs for medical procedures, including abortion care, that are not available in a person’s home state. employee. But in the week since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade removing constitutional protections for access to abortion that had been in place for nearly half a century, some workers and activists point out that these funds will not extend to all Amazon workers.
It’s “common sense policy” for companies to ensure workers won’t have a “huge disruption to their lives” as a result of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, said Liza Fuentes, senior researcher at the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that promotes sexual and reproductive rights.
“It’s a huge benefit for these workers,” she says. “However, what we do know is that many people who might need abortion care do not work for these companies.”
In Washington, many of the state’s largest employers — Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, Alaska, T-Mobile, Zillow, Redfin, Starbucks and others — have pledged to cover travel costs for employees who live in places where abortion services are not available. Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, said Friday it was evaluating potential stocks and looking for the best way forward, according to Bloomberg. Starbucks said it could not “make any promises of benefit guarantees” for unionized store workers.
Amazon announced in May that it would provide up to $4,000 for travel if care is not available virtually or within 100 miles of an employee’s home.
The Supreme Court ruling is expected to result in the banning of abortion in nearly half of the states. For a company like Amazon, which has offices and warehouses across the country, the funds are intended to help workers who may need to travel to access care.
Amazon’s policy, which is retroactive to Jan. 1, is available to employees and their dependents covered by two health plans offered by the company. Funds are available to both corporate and warehouse employees, but not to independent contractors.
Workers are calling on the company to “expand the scope” of the benefit to encompass all Amazon employees, including contractors. Amazon has a network of delivery service partners, who help deliver packages to customers’ doorsteps and operate as independent contractors, as well as Flex Drivers – jobsite workers who use their own vehicle to perform business deliveries.
Amazon isn’t the only company under 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 assistance to company employees, but not to “the more than 100,000 entrepreneurs who form the backbone of Google’s trillion-dollar empire.”
“Workers need real support, not performative headlines and legal fine print explaining to them why they are not eligible for benefits,” said the California Labor Federation, a network of unions, tweeted this week.
Google did not respond to requests for comment. Amazon declined to answer questions about the details of its policy, including who would have access to the benefit and whether warehouse associates would receive paid time off to travel for medical procedures.
In the open letter, employees also called on Amazon to expand access to services that would “protect and empower abortion seekers,” including abortion pills and abortion-related care. Workers also pushed back against Amazon’s political donations, asking it to vet all political donations and stop contributing to committees that oppose abortion.
A shareholder proposal requesting a report on Amazon’s lobbying activities and expenditures failed to pass at 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 had processes in place to provide oversight of its public policy activities. “While we do not agree with every position of every organization we support, we believe our support will help advance policy goals that align with our interests,” the board wrote.
The proposal narrowly failed with 47% of shareholders voting in favor.
In this week’s open letter, employees also called on Amazon to donate to organizations working to expand access to abortion, expand remote work and options for employees to relocate. states with new abortion restrictions and to halt expansion plans in states that threaten to ban abortion.
Workers are also calling on Amazon to remove any product offerings that may encourage hate speech or violence toward abortion seekers.
The call to action comes just as company employees are stepping up efforts to pressure Amazon to stop selling books activists say are transphobic, including titles such as ‘Desist , Detrans & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult” and “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seduces Our Girls.”
A worker-led group called No Hate At Amazon held a “die-in” in June, where employees interrupted a company-sponsored Pride event to demand the removal of the books. Wrapped in pink, blue and white flags, a group of people lay on the ground in front of a stage where representatives from Glamazon, an Amazon affinity group for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, were giving speeches under a Pride flag .
This week, in an internal messaging forum, an employee again asked Amazon to review “Irreversible Damage” for deletion and to investigate why the book was approved in the first place.
As it has said in the past, Amazon responded that the book did not violate its guidelines.
On Friday, workers fighting to remove the books and for reproductive rights posted out-of-office messages and emailed team members explaining why they had taken the day off.