Amazon Workers Strike in Minnesota & Around the World
Our Tech Column was made possible by the fine folks at Mozilla Firefox. The nonprofit Mozilla Foundation believes the Internet must always remain a global public resource that is open and accessible to all. And that’s why we love Firefox.Picket line at Amazon in Minnesota Monday. Photo via Awood Center @AwoodMpls
Amazon. The fast-growing, brick and mortar eating, global retail superpower, is experiencing labor strikes during their ‘black friday’ inspired sales event.
In Shakopee Minnesota, Amazon workers went on strike during the first morning of ‘Primeday’ Monday. Although this may just be one Amazon fulfillment center in the US, it represents the first major work stoppage event for Amazon in the United States. Which makes it significant. And the Shakopee workers were not alone.
"We are here because we're workers, not robots."
— Jacobin (@jacobinmag) July 15, 2019
Amazon workers in Germany, held strikes under the slogan “No more discount on our incomes”, they started Sunday night at Amazon sites in Werne, Rheinberg, Leipzig, Graben, Koblenz and Bad Hersfeld, German union Verdi said in a statement to press. In Spain, they’re calling for 1,000 workers to strike in a Madrid fulfillment center, and according to UNI Global, the trade union helping coordinate the walkout, roughly 2,400 workers were on strike across Europe. The Italian press reported Amazon managers were having to pack boxes themselves to help fill the demand.
Amazon spokespeople downplayed the strikes, assuring customers that the walkouts would not have any impact on deliveries.
“We’re human beings not robots” is the cry going around in the US these days. Last year many reported long, strenuous working conditions at fulfillment centers that kept employees on their feet, constantly surveilled, with little time to go to the bathroom. In Minnesota Monday morning there were about 75 workers outside the facility at 5 p.m, chanting “Amazon, hear our voice!” and “We work, we sweat, Amazon workers need a rest!”
— Glen Stubbe (@gspphoto) July 15, 2019
To Amazon’s credit, they did raise their working minimum wage to $15/hour in 2019. But workers and labor unions are saying that working conditions and wages are still unfair, and that Amazon takes advantage of both part-time and full-time workers. The AFL-CIO also released a video Monday showing solidarity with the workers.
“They’re working under insane deadlines, often in unsafe conditions,” AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Schuler said in the video. “We’re standing strong in solidarity with the workers in Shakopee and beyond, but we hope you will too. When you stand up together collectively, that is how we change corporate behavior.”
— Minnesota AFL-CIO (@MNAFLCIO) July 15, 2019
The ‘Boycott Amazon’ image and the #AmazonStrike slogan have been flying around social media lately, but we’ll have to wait and see if these efforts will have any sustained impact on Amazon’s treatment of its workers, or its rush to do $5.8 Billion in sales globally during their sale.
Amazon is also offering customers $10 cash credits for their data. It’s called Amazon Asssitant‘, and if you download it, it will track all your activity online. Amazon wants to watch your shopping habits so they can improve marketing, and crush their competition.
Amazon’s combination of online tracking tools still pales in comparison to data collection by Alphabet Inc’s Google, which has tracking pixels on most web pages, watching everything you search, and visit online. Both companies use your data from search queries as well as your requests to their in-home listening devices like Alexa and Google Home to harvest your data, learn your habits, and sell you more.