Amazon Workers Hold Strike During Prime Day
Following through on their word, thousands of Amazon warehouse workers across the globe are participating in a strike on one of the company’s busiest days of the year – Prime Day. Fighting to bring attention to unfair working conditions, Amazon warehouse workers say their jobs are fraught with unrealistically high quotas, limited bathroom breaks, and mandatory holiday shifts.
In a particularly visceral representation of what working in an Amazon warehouse is like, a Philly author detailed conditions where employees would head over to vending machines that dispensed free Advil and Tylenol. These painkillers were “popped like candy” to relieve the severe aches felt by ‘pickers’ – people who are tasked with pulling items from the shelf so they may be processed for shipment.
Currently, strikes are occurring in Shakopee, Minnesota, where workers at an Amazon fulfillment center have walked off the job during a six-hour period that overlaps with the morning and evening shifts. That particular warehouse has over 1,500 full-time employees, not counting the many part-time workers.
Strike demonstrations are also taking place in New York, San Francisco, Portland, and Amazon’s home base of Seattle. Some of the demonstrations are being held in protest of the company’s dealings with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in tandem with those that are striking for unfair working conditions. Abroad, there are strikes occurring in Germany and the UK.
Amazon released a statement saying, “These groups are conjuring misinformation to work in their favor, when in fact we already offer the things they purport to be their cause,” citing the recent increase of their minimum wage to $15/hour. The statement continues: “If these groups — unions and the politicians they rally to their cause — really want to help the American worker, we encourage them to focus their energy on passing legislation for an increase in the federal minimum wage because $7.25 is too low.”
Amazon warehouses are turning to increased automation for safer conditions. A look inside them would offer a glimpse into a labyrinth of robots and conveyor belts that bring products to employees so that they may be shipped out. The company recently announced they would be investing more than $700 million in retraining current warehouse employees to work alongside robots.