Amazon Prime Day is for job actions

November 8, 2022

From the November-December 2022 issue of News & Letters

On “Prime Day,” Oct. 11, Amazon warehouse workers in Moreno Valley, Calif., filed enough signatures to schedule a union vote at their facility. On the same day, dozens of non-union Amazon workers walked out of warehouses in Stone Mountain and Buford, Ga., to rally for $24 per hour. Though a warehouse may employ thousands of workers, dozens of pickets are significant, given the threat of retaliatory firings which, among many examples, had occurred only recently in nearby East Point, Ga.

ILLINOIS WALKOUT

Warehouse workers picket Amazon, October 2022. Photo: International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Later that same day, about 50 workers walked out of an Amazon cross-dock facility in Joliet, Ill., demanding better conditions. “It’s us that put our bodies and minds behind this behemoth that is Amazon and keep it going, and it’s not us that see the benefit of it,” MDW2 employee Cesar Escutia told station WTTW, demanding better conditions.

On Oct. 14, at Amazon’s air freight fulfillment center in San Bernardino, Calif., 23-year-old worker Anna Ortega joined a walkout. “With the rising cost of everything in our lives, it’s getting tough to make ends meet,” she told the Washington Post. “It doesn’t make any sense that people who work here should be on food stamps or struggling financially.” Participants in the walkout also called for better heat safety measures, as their region regularly gets hotter than 100 degrees.

RAINING CASH FOR UNION-BUSTING

On Oct, 18, Amazon prevailed in a union election in Schodack, N.Y. The company had buttered up workers with a single $1 raise, adding to millions of dollars already spent on mandatory staff meetings where the company mis-conveys the interests at stake.

Anti-union consultants in Schodack were paid $3,200 per day. A powerpoint slide, leaked to the Hudson Mohawk magazine, read: “An authorization card is a legal document shared with the government. The card becomes property of the union and they or third parties can contact you outside of working hours… and may show up at your home.”

Workers in Schodack vow to contest the result, just as in Bessemer, Ala., where the workers succeeded in getting a second vote that is still too close to call.

Meanwhile, Amazon continues to pursue objections to the April 1 union-yes result in Staten Island, N.Y. About 100 union workers there held a sit-down strike on Oct. 6 when smoke from an extinguished trash compactor fire was still present in the warehouse.

MASS SUSPENSIONS

Sitting down to occupy the facility office, they asked to be sent home with one day’s pay, as happened with the prior shift of workers. At least 50 of the striking workers were suspended without pay over the incident.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy’s compensation package amounts to 6,400 times the median pay of a worker! The worker, through her labor, created almost all the surplus value in this equation, and she would love to balance the seesaw for once.

—Buddy Bell

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