Ashley Furniture workers protest COVID working conditions
August 20, 2020 | 11:58 am CDT
LEESPORT, Pa. - North America's largest furniture manufacturer is facing protests from workers at its manufacturing plant in Berks County, Pennsylvania. They say they aren't being informed when their coworkers contract COVID, and that they're being reprimanded for taking time off.
Activist organization Make the Road and several Ashley employees formed outside the facility last week, chanting “¡Ashley, escucha! ¡Estamos en la lucha!” or“Ashley, listen up! We are in the fight!” Around 12 people protested in total. Police arrived and split up the group, reports WHYY.
Make the Road says more than 50 employees have spoken to them about the working conditions at the plant under COVID. They say there aren't adequate safety measures. One claimed he was fired for taking two sick days after having flu-like symptoms.
Employees have their temperatures taken upon arrival and masks are required. But they say there's no social distancing and no time set aside for extra cleaning.
Ashley issued a statement saying COVID protocols are being followed.
“The assertions made that COVID protocols are not being followed are false. Since the pandemic spread to the U.S., we have been steadfast with following the guidance and information provided by the CDC, and our state and local governments, to ensure we are taking the necessary precautions for the well-being of our employees."
Ashley said workers have indeed tested positive at the plant, but that it handled such cases appropriately.
Established in 1945, Ashley is the largest manufacturer of home furnishings in the world. The company had $5.7 billion in annual sales in 2019. It runs 12 manufacturing plants and employs more than 31,000 workers.

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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at