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Protests on Prime Day


It is Prime Day. So people are buying lots of stuff, I guess. But it’s worth noting that Amazon is a really horrible employer. They vulture into vulnerable communities to put their warehouse and treat those workers, who largely have few other options, like garbage. It’s a very Gilded Age deal. However, there are some worker protests going on today. First, Amazon’s pilots:

As Amazon readies for what will likely be two of its busiest days of the year, the pilots who transport its cargo are releasing a digital ad campaign on Facebook to highlight “concerns about how they are being overworked, underpaid and disrespected by their carriers.”

It’s the latest move in an increasingly bitter logistics saga as Amazon appeals to customers with faster and faster delivery options. The tactics have left pilots complaining about challenging schedules and low pay, and the airlines involved are accusing the pilots’ labor union of spreading lies—and delaying negotiations.

The new ads will direct viewers to the pilots’ website, PilotsDeserveBetter.org, which a union spokesman said “provides background from the pilots’ perspective about serious issues at their carriers.”

In addition, he said the pilots are standing in solidarity with the Amazon warehouse workers in Minnesota who are planning a Prime Day strike. A representative from the pilots’ union will be on the ground to show striking workers they have the support of Teamsters Local 1224.

“As we know firsthand, Amazon’s business model too often neglects the wellbeing of the workers who make the ecommerce giant so incredibly successful,” said Daniel Wells, an Atlas Air pilot and president of APA Teamsters Local 1224, in a statement. “We’re proud to be the airline professionals who fly the planes that deliver Amazon’s packages to millions of Americans, but we want to make sure we’re engaged in a sustainable, long-term operation.”

And then there’s that Minnesota strike:

Amazon.com Inc. warehouse workers in Minnesota plan to strike during the online retailer’s summer sales extravaganza, a sign that labor unrest persists even after the company committed to paying all employees at least $15 an hour last year.

Workers at a Shakopee, Minnesota, fulfillment center plan a six-hour work stoppage July 15, the first day of Prime Day. Amazon started the event five years ago, using deep discounts on televisions, toys and clothes to attract and retain Prime members, who pay subscription fees in exchange for free shipping and other perks.

“Amazon is going to be telling one story about itself, which is they can ship a Kindle to your house in one day, isn’t that wonderful,” said William Stolz, one of the Shakopee employees organizing the strike. “We want to take the opportunity to talk about what it takes to make that work happen and put pressure on Amazon to protect us and provide safe, reliable jobs.”

“The fact is Amazon offers already what this outside organization is asking for,” the company said in an emailed statement. Amazon provides competitive hourly rates ranging from $16.25 to $20.80, with benefits, “and we invite anyone to see for themselves by taking a tour of the facility” in Shakopee, the company added.

In Europe, where unions are stronger, Amazon workers routinely strike during big shopping events like Prime Day and Black Friday. Until now, Amazon’s U.S. workers haven’t walked off the job during key sales days. About 250 union pilots who haul packages for Amazon and DHL Worldwide Express staged a brief strike in the lead-up to Thanksgiving in 2016 before a federal judge ordered them back to work, eliminating any disruptions during the peak holiday shopping season.

While the planned strike will affect just one of Amazon’s more than 100 U.S. warehouses, which typically employ a couple of thousand people, the unrest coincides with increasing political pressure on the company and could embolden workers elsewhere.

Worth noting here that a lot of the Amazon workers in the Minneapolis area are Somali immigrants, i.e., Ilhan Omar’s constituents. This is of course directly chosen by Amazon. That’s fine and all–they need jobs, but they also need to be treated with dignity and respect. And that’s not happening here.

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