Amanda Redmond has two children and an autoimmune health condition that causes seizures. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, going into her job at a FedEx shipping facility in Independence, Kentucky, began to feel like an impossible choice: “It’s either I can go to work there and die, possibly die, or stay home safe and live. It’s not just me making that decision. It’s a lot of people.”
Shipping facilities like those run by FedEx are considered “essential” businesses during the pandemic. As more brick-and-mortar retail stores close to limit the spread of the virus, demand for cross-country shipping is likely to rise. Amazon plans to hire 100,000 new workers to keep up.
But Redmond, viewers and other workers who wished to remain anonymous said FedEx isn’t doing enough to keep its employees safe as they shoulder an increasingly heavy workload.
“No gloves, no masks, no hand sanitizer,” Redmond said of the Independence shipping facility. “They don’t clean our work stations. We all use scanners to scan packages, and those aren’t cleaned at all.”
FedEx released this statement regarding the company's policies during the coronavirus pandemic:
“The safety and well-being of our team members and customers is our top priority. As an essential business, FedEx Ground takes seriously our responsibility to continue delivering critically needed supplies as the country responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are closely monitoring guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health organizations and are taking recommended precautions in terms of team member and customer health and safety. We continue to work diligently to provide supplies across the network to assist with hygiene, including hand soap, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer. In addition, we are encouraging our team members to take any signs of illness seriously, seek medical attention as needed, and promoting guidance from leading public health organizations, and other experts, on how to keep the workplace safe.”
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Friday his administration was aware of complaints about some companies in his state not following safety precautions.
“We've had conversations directly with at least a couple of these major employers, and we have been pushing,” he said.
Beshear also said he is prepared to issue stronger orders for the state if still-open businesses don’t obey health and safety rules on their own.
“It's a lot better to cut productivity by just a little, to spread people out, than to have an outbreak that closes your whole facility down,” he said. “And remember, this isn't about your profits. This is about our people.”
Redmond’s time at FedEx ended Wednesday, but she said she worries her time there might already have affected her health. She plans to stay home with her family until she is certain she is healthy.
Many of her coworkers can’t afford to do the same.