Why some Amazon workers are going on strike on Prime Day

At a time of rising activism among workers, some A...

Posted: Jul 16, 2019 10:44 AM

At a time of rising activism among workers, some Amazon employees are using Prime Day to protest their pay, working conditions and a range of other issues.

Prime Day is the biggest event of the year for Amazon, which has built one of the most efficient supply chains in the world. But some warehouse workers say they face too much pressure to fulfill delivery orders as it is -- and now Amazon is moving to offer free one-day shipping for Prime members. Workers worry that change will increase the strain they're under.

"We're humans, not robots," William Stolz, an Amazon warehouse worker in Shakopee, Minnesota, told CNN Business. "They're treating us like machines."

In Shakopee, an estimated 100 workers at an Amazon warehouse are expected to walk out Monday in protest of the pace they have to work on the job. The Shakopee protests are one of several on Prime Day, which will run for two days this year.

Amazon, however, defended its pay and worker policies. A spokesperson said the company offers "industry-leading pay of $15 per hour, benefits, and a safe workplace for our employees."

The company also fired back at critics: "Events like Prime Day have become an opportunity for our critics, including unions, to raise awareness for their cause," the spokesperson said. "These groups are conjuring misinformation to work in their favor."

The Monday protests kicked off with workers at Amazon facilities in Germany striking over pay. The strikes in Germany were held under the slogan "No more discount on our incomes." Amazon has been embroiled in a dispute with German trade unions, and the company's workers in Germany have staged frequent strikes and protests in recent years.

"While Amazon throws huge discounts to its customers on Prime Day, employees lack a living wage," said one German union.

Other European Prime Day protests included the United Kingdom, Spain and Poland.

In the United Kingdom, the labor union GMB -- which represents Amazon workers -- held protests outside Amazon fulfillment centers. "We're staging protests across Amazon sites up and down the country this Prime Day," said Mick Rix, a union leader. "The conditions our members work under at Amazon sites across the UK are appalling."

Although Amazon raised starting wages to $15 an hour for all US employees last year, frustration among some workers lingers. Prime Day protests and rallies are slated to take place in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC, in addition to the Shakopee demonstration. Democratic presidential candidates, including Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, threw their support behind the protests.

"The main issue is with the speed of the work and the physical stress and mental stress," said Stolz, the Shakopee worker who has been with Amazon for two years. "We have an opportunity. If Amazon wants to get your packages out in one to two days, it has to treat its workers with respect."

Stolz said the employees decided to take action on Prime Day because it will be one of Amazon's "busiest times of the year."

Many of the Amazon workers in Shakopee are Muslim immigrants from East Africa, and some of their demands are for prayer spaces, and easing speed and rates during Ramadan when employees are fasting.

The Shakopee workers' Prime Day protests are part of an ongoing organizing effort at this location. Last year, workers at the warehouse met with Amazon management to press for changes, but claimed their main concerns went unaddressed. In December, workers staged a walkout.

"We just want safe, reliable jobs we're able to do long term and support our families," said Stolz.

Shakopee workers are expected to be joined by Amazon workers traveling from the company's headquarters in Seattle. The tech workers traveling to Minnesota are part of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group that has pressured Amazon to take action on the climate crisis.

Pilots for Amazon Air, the company's air cargo operation, also said they "stand in solidarity with the warehouse workers" in Shakopee. They are sending a pilot to the Minnesota protest.

"As we know firsthand, Amazon's business model too often neglects the well-being of the workers who make the e-commerce giant so incredibly successful," said Daniel Wells, a union leader representing pilots who fly for Amazon Air.

Activists also rallied outside of Jeff Bezos' home in New York City on Monday, demanding that Amazon cut reported web services contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and "end abusive working conditions in its warehouses." Amazon has declined to comment on ICE contracts.

—CNN's Lydia DePillis and Charles Riley contributed to this article.

West Lafayette
Clear
92° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 96°
Kokomo
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 98°
Rensselaer
Scattered Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 87°
Fowler
Scattered Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 87°
Williamsport
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 92°
Crawfordsville
Scattered Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 88°
Frankfort
Broken Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 94°
Delphi
Scattered Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 90°
Monticello
Scattered Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 90°
Logansport
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 90°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 46915

Reported Deaths: 2681
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11499683
Lake5053242
Elkhart316443
Allen2717128
St. Joseph186366
Cass16369
Hamilton1518100
Hendricks1386100
Johnson1254118
Porter71237
Tippecanoe6778
Madison64864
Clark63844
Bartholomew58244
Howard56057
LaPorte55326
Kosciusko5124
Vanderburgh4806
Jackson4653
LaGrange4657
Noble45728
Hancock43735
Boone43443
Delaware42949
Marshall4273
Shelby42025
Floyd37144
Morgan32531
Montgomery29320
Grant29026
Clinton2852
Monroe26628
Dubois2646
White26010
Decatur24832
Henry24315
Lawrence23624
Vigo2288
Dearborn22723
Harrison21022
Warrick21029
Greene18432
Miami1812
Jennings17111
Putnam1688
Scott1607
DeKalb1594
Daviess14116
Orange13523
Wayne1346
Perry1279
Steuben1262
Franklin1248
Jasper1142
Ripley1147
Carroll1102
Wabash1102
Fayette987
Newton9710
Whitley884
Starke853
Randolph784
Huntington712
Wells711
Jefferson701
Fulton681
Jay680
Washington661
Knox630
Pulaski621
Clay604
Gibson592
Rush563
Adams481
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Blackford372
Posey360
Spencer351
Fountain302
Tipton301
Crawford290
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike90
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events