Amazon is now running its second Prime Day sale of the year, which is marketed as a means to obtain Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains early. Workers who handle the massive quantity of goods that travel through Amazon’s facilities, warehouses, and air hubs are seeking better compensation and working conditions as the company courts customers. Strikes, walkouts, and the possibility of another unionized warehouse are all looming as Amazon prepares to enter one of its busiest seasons.
Workers at Amazon’s ALB1 plant in Albany, New York, began voting on Wednesday on whether to unionize with the Amazon Labor Union, the same organization that unionized Amazon’s JFK8 site and is presently negotiating a contract with Amazon. Another fulfillment facility in Moreno Valley, California, has filed to conduct a vote on whether to join the ALU, but the National Labor Relations Board has yet to establish whether 30 percent of the unit’s 800 employees signed cards indicating interest in the election.
There is also the genuine possibility of a work stoppage just as Prime Day items are being delivered. Workers at Amazon’s Inland Empire air freight plant in San Bernardino, California, have announced a walkout that will begin on Friday. According to More Perfect Union, the corporation is also facing a strike in Buford, Georgia, and there have been walkouts at factories in Joliet, Illinois, and Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Employees in Illinois are seeking safeguards against violence, injury, and sexual harassment for a variety of reasons. Employees in California have been seeking “basic safety measures” after Amazon failed to react to a strike last summer, during which workers accused the corporation of failing to provide them with breaks or relief under extreme temperatures. High temperatures have actually been a source of concern in many areas — earlier this year, lawmakers requested information on Amazon’s severe weather policies, citing how the company handled heatwaves in 2017 and 2018, and the company has reportedly installed new air conditioning equipment at a facility where a worker died during the previous Prime Day event (the company blamed the incident on “a personal medical condition”).
The new groupings of workers are all clamoring for more compensation. Amazon established a $15-per-hour minimum wage in 2018 and has lately committed to boosting hourly compensation for warehouse and transportation workers, stating that customer fulfillment and transportation personnel will begin at $16 per hour. However, Inland Empire Amazon Workers United claims that this is insufficient to keep up with growing living expenses. And, as e-commerce enters its busiest season, key fulfillment employees have a great opportunity to urge the corporation for higher compensation.
Even though Amazon is concerned about depleting the labor pool in certain locations, it continues to irritate some of the employees on whom its operations rely. In Illinois, the corporation reportedly dismissed a worker who attempted to persuade the company to take action after racial death threats were scribbled on the toilet walls of one of its locations. According to the ALU, Amazon suspended scores of employees at JFK8 when they refused to return to work in a smoke-filled warehouse after a fire. Workers at the Inland Empire airport claim the business punished individuals who spoke out or organized (something that the NLRB has formally accused the company of doing in at least one instance).
Regardless, it doesn’t seem like employees will stop attempting to gain better treatment from Amazon, and it appears that we are nearing a tipping point. Although Prime Day is coming to a close, Amazon’s warehouse and transportation staff will continue to work. While corporate organizers have used the event to emphasize how vital they are to the Amazon experience, it is doubtful that the protests will end very soon.