Amazon workers at Minnesota warehouse plan to strike on Prime Day: Report

Workers will strike for six hours across two shifts on Amazon's major sales day.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

Amazon workers at a warehouse based in Shakopee, Minnesota plan to strike during Prime Day for safer working conditions and improved job security.
First reported by Bloomberg, workers at Amazon's Shakopee warehouse on July 15 will strike for six hours; three hours at the end of the day shift and three hours at the start of the night shift. The workers will also rally outside the facility in the afternoon. 
The Shakopee warehouse workers will also be joined by Amazon's engineers that are a part of the Amazon Employees For Climate Justice Group.
"We proudly stand in solidarity with our FC coworkers who are striking on #PrimeDay because whether you work behind a computer in Seattle or in a warehouse in Minnesota, the only way we can create meaningful change is by standing together," Amazon Employees For Climate Justice said in a tweet on Monday. 

The workers are demanding that Amazon convert more temp jobs into full-time positions and that the company permanently reduce quotas which workers have described as being unsafe and insecure, Bloomberg said.   

"Workers have been organising and fighting for better jobs and respect from Amazon for nearly 18 months. These workers were the first to ever sit down and discuss working conditions with Amazon management, and have bravely held rallies and gone on strike to get their voices heard. But instead of progress they are getting retaliated against for raising their voices," the Awood Center told ZDNet, the worker advocacy group organising the strike.

"They are clear in their goals, which include pushing to ensure these critical jobs are safe and reliable, and working to make Amazon a place where the majority East African workforce is respected and promoted to leadership positions. Workers see the massive profits Amazon and Jeff Bezos are making, and the power they have to do actual good, and are tired of waiting around for change."

They had previously walked off in December last year, and then again in March, demanding that the company relax pressure for workers to meet quotas during Ramadan, according previous reports from the Minnesota Sun. In May, three Somali Muslim workers at the Shakopee warehouse filed charges with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming Amazon had failed to accommodate their religious needs and retaliated against their protests.  

See also: US appeals court - Amazon liable for third-party vendors' products

In response to the upcoming planned strike, Amazon told ZDNet's sister site CNET that it already offers what the warehouse workers were seeking. Amazon reportedly made changes to meet these demands, such as reducing quotas and designating a conference room as a prayer space during the Ramadan period. 

"We encourage anyone to compare our pay, benefits, and workplace to other retailers and major employers in the Shakopee community and across the country -- and we invite anyone to see for themselves by taking a tour of the facility," Amazon said in a statement Monday.

If the strike goes ahead, this would not be the first time that Amazon workers have gone on strike during the company's major sales days, including Prime Day and Black Friday. However, strikes during the major sales days have primarily occurred in Europe, and not in the US.
In recent years, Amazon has faced scrutiny over its warehouse working conditions and low pay. Prior to the company's decision to raise its minimum wages to $15 per hour, US Senator Bernie Sanders had continually criticised Amazon for its treatment of workers. 

Updated at 12.20pm AEST, 9 July 2018: added comments from the Awood Center

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