On 'Prime Day' Amazon warehouse workers at MSP1 in Shakopee took part in an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike for safe & reliable jobs, better working conditions, the right to organize, and increased respect for the predominantly East African workforce.
"We want Amazon to treat us like humans, not robots. That means humane work rate and a workplace where we won't get retaliated against if we speak up about unsafe working conditions. We know Prime Day is a big day for Amazon, so we hope this strike will help executives understand how serious we are about wanting real change that will uplift the workers in Amazon's warehouses," said Safiyo Mohamed, one of the MSP1 strikers. "We create a lot of wealth for Amazon, but they aren't treating us with the respect and dignity that we deserve. We are so happy for all the support from the community and from Amazon workers across the world. We believe that together we can get Amazon to do what is right for our families and our communities!"
MSP1 Amazon warehouse workers like William Stolz were joined on the picket line by supporters from faith, labor and community groups in Minnesota as letters and videos of support came pouring in from across the globe, including from multiple Presidential candidates.
"I'm on strike today because I am tired of facing retaliation while seeing my friends get injured on the job because of the strain Amazon puts on us," said Stolz. "In addition to the injuries, too many people don’t have job security because of Amazon's reliance on temp workers throughout the year. We make Amazon their huge profits, and we all deserve safe and reliable jobs. I hope management and executives will hear our voice and sit down again to try and fix the working conditions facing Amazon employees across our country and across the world."
Several Amazon tech employees traveled to Minnesota from Seattle to show solidarity with striking warehouse workers. The employees are part of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice which has pushed the company to take action to address the climate crisis and organized an open letter signed by nearly 8,000 employees. The group has been collecting statements of support from tech workers and sending them directly to their striking colleagues at the Minnesota Fulfillment Center (FC). An example that the group shared is below.
“Fulfillment center workers are literally the foundation of the success of Amazon's retail business. As profits soar for Amazon, I want the workers doing the heavy lifting in Minnesota to know that tech workers support their calls for safe and equitable working conditions. As a Prime customer, as an Amazon shareholder, and most importantly as a fellow Amazon employee, I want the Minnesota FC workers to know that their coworkers in Seattle support their calls for safe and equitable working conditions.”
Also joining the group was Captain Michael Russo, who has worked as an Atlas Air Pilot for 15 years and is a member of Teamsters 1224.
"As a pilot at one of Amazon Air’s contracted carriers, we stand in solidarity with you in your fight for a better workplace and honor the bravery it takes to stand up together. We know Amazon’s success relies on us and all of you. The company needs us, and we're stronger together."
Workers took part in the picket until around 5 p.m. when torrential rain, flash flooding and severe weather caused the group to end the picket before the second shift of workers were able to join.
Before the rain started the group spent hours in the blistering summer heat, with heat index nearing 100 degrees. But the extreme weather didn't stop workers from standing tall in the face of the corporate giant.
"Amazon workers should be able to share in the companies success, but instead we worry about being injured on the job or getting retaliated against if we speak up. Our work keeps getting faster, bringing more profits to Amazon, but the majority East African workforce are often not given the chance to get promoted into leadership roles," said Guled Mohamed, one of the MSP1 strikers. "I am proud of my co-workers for going on strike today and showing that we aren't afraid to fight for what is right."
Amazon workers in Minnesota have been organizing over the last 18 months supported by the Awood Center, a worker center based in Minneapolis that works to build power amongst workers in the East African community of Minnesota. These workers were the first to ever sit down and discuss working conditions with Amazon management, but workers are still struggling to make these critical jobs ones that are safe, reliable and where the majority East African workforce is respected and promoted to leadership positions. As Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos continue to make record profits, workers are facing increasingly unstable jobs.