Amazon Strike Planned for Prime Day
Workers in Minnesota will be striking on one of Amazon's busiest sale days
Prime Day has turned into one of Amazon’s biggest money making days of the year. They get you in with great deals on all of the junk that they couldn’t sell over the previous year and then convince you to spend a lot more on stuff you do need.
For the workers at Amazon warehouses, this means an increase in work that is akin to Christmas time. Over the last few years, as CEO Jeff Bezos has become the richest man in the world, the inequality at Amazon has come to the forefront. Over the last few years, Amazon workers in Europe have gone on strike during big shopping days like Prime Day and Black Friday. Now that activism is spreading to the United States. Workers at the Shakopee Minnesota warehouse have announced that they will hold a six-hour strike on July 15th, the first day of Prime Day. The employees say that they are going on strike to tell the story of what it really is like to work for Amazon and to call on the company to protect them and provide safe, reliable jobs.
While this is the first strike at Amazon in the United States during a high volume sales time, this isn’t the beginning of activism at the Minnesota fulfillment center. The Shakopee center, as well as other warehouses across the Twin Cities area, have seen an increase in activism, largely led by the East African Muslim immigrants who comprise the majority of the staff at the 5 area warehouses. Last year, management was met by throngs of workers chanting in both English and Somali as they presented demands for a reduced work schedule during the holy month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslim’s are not allowed to eat or drink during the day, making the long, strenuous hours in the hot fulfillment centers dangerous. Workers at the warehouse have also held short strikes in the past and even filed an NLRB complaint against the staffing vendor, Integrity Staffing Solutions, for retaliating against striking workers.
Back in Minnesota, the employees say that their activism brought small changes, but said there are still larger problems. Some of the demands that the company has failed to meet include converting more temps to actual Amazon employees and permanently easing the quotas to make their jobs safer. The planned strike will take place during the last three hours of the day shift and the first three hours of the night shift.
The Minnesota workers will also be joined by a handful of white-collar Amazon workers. These white- collar workers, who often make well into the six-figure range, are planning to fly to Minnesota to support the strike and push the company to take action on climate change, as well as workers rights.
“We see that our fights are stronger together,” said Abdirahman Muse, executive director of the Awood Center, the worker advocacy group spearheading the Minnesota activism, whose backers include the Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters, and the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Muse said he expects more than 100 workers to strike.