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60 Amazon Workers Walked Out Over Warehouse Working Conditions

They are asking for better pay on the night shift and better working conditions. It's the second work stoppage at a Minnesota fulfillment center in the last two months.

by Lauren Kaori Gurley
Oct 3 2019, 6:58pm

Image: Workday Minnesota

Late Wednesday night, roughly 60 Amazon warehouse workers in yellow vests walked out of a delivery center in Eagan, Minnesota and stood outside in the near-freezing rain waving protest signs. The workers—mostly women of Somali descent—demanded increased wages on the night shift, weight restrictions on boxes, and the reversal of a 30-hour weekly workload cap from their managers.

The strike arrives during a period of increased worker activism at Amazon among both white and blue collar workers. On September 30, workers at an Amazon delivery center in Sacramento formed a group called Amazonians United Sacramento to protest the firing of an employee who went an hour over on her bereavement leave after her mother-in-law died. Two weeks ago, more than 1,000 Amazon employees staged the first white collar walkout in the company’s history.

Striking workers at the Eagan plant also demanded an increase in their hourly wage, which currently sits at $16.25 an hour. They argue they should get paid more on the night shift.

The two-and-a-half hour strike in Eagan ended when an Amazon manager committed to resolving the issues in the morning, and all truck deliveries were cancelled for the night. The workers say they “remain prepared to take action if no changes are made.”

This is the second strike at the Eagan plant in the last two months. In August, 80 employees walked out of the plant to protest parking conditions. Within two hours, management had agreed to expand off-site parking, repay workers for towed cars, and allow workers to clock-in off site so they aren’t marked late.

“The workers are very excited because they got something they wanted and because they spoke up. The managers say they will do something, but they didn’t say exactly what,” Kadijo Mohamed, one of the walkout’s organizers, told Motherboard. “The managers were very angry, and afraid of what the workers did when they stopped stocking,” she continued.

Fed up with their managers, Mohamed told Motherboard the workers had decided to strike because it was the best way to get their attention. “The managers don’t listen. They ignore complaints. Sometimes they say ‘if you can’t handle this job, you can quit,’” Mohamed said.

Most Amazon workers at delivery centers—smaller warehouses for sorting packages before delivery—do not receive health care benefits and can be fired for taking more time off than 20 hours every quarter. At the Amazon delivery center in Eagan, boxes can weigh up to 70 pounds and breaks on the nine-hour or longer night shift last 15 minutes, according to workers at the warehouse.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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labor