Press Release from Amazon Workers for Black Friday, November 2019
This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Amazon workers across the globe will once again process the millions of orders that consumers make in preparation for the holiday season, or as Amazon calls it, Peak Season. Whenever an item is purchased on Amazon, it is touched by dozens of hands, processed through multiple warehouses, and brought to the consumer in mere days, or sometimes even in 24 hours. In order to accomplish this feat, workers in Amazon warehouses must work hard, work fast, and do so knowing that they will reap none of the massive profit from Amazon’s busiest season, aside from their normal wages.
It is no secret that Jeff Bezos despises unions, yet within many Amazon warehouses across the world workers are forming unions that are fighting oppressive working conditions and inhumane treatment.
In Lille, France, workers are fighting against mandatory 6 day work weeks, mandatory Holiday work, and abusive discipline from management intended to intimidate the workers into sub- mission. On Black Friday they will strike to demand that Amazon open negotiations. They will be joined by the activist group AT- TAC and the Gilets Jaunes.
In Madrid, Spain, workers are asking the public to assist them in boycotting Amazon, to make it clear the public supports the workers and not the inhumane treatment inside the warehouse.
In Germany, all six of the Fulfillment Centers in the country will go on strike for several days starting on Black Friday. This is the first time these facilities have gone on strike at the same time. These warehouses are organized by the union Ver.di as part of a 6 years long campaign to get a worker contract with Amazon. The workers have demanded this for years, and Amazon of course has refused to negotiate.
In Poland, workers have opposed the high expectations for worker efficiency, have grown their union, and have recently negotiated to receive a higher Christmas bonus than Amazon originally offered, with less rigid conditions for workers to receive it. They have shown that victory against Amazon is possible. Still, the labour dispute continues: unions are demanding higher wages, stable contracts and new forms of job evaluation. Part of this dispute is ongoing strike vote, in which 5,5 thousand Polish workers have already taken part. Amazon has opened this year two new warehouses in Poland and recruited thousand of workers before the peak time, big part of them through temp agencies, for one month contracts.
In the US, workers in Chicago were able to force management to provide water during the sweltering heat of the summer. They are defending their coworkers against authoritarian managers and voicing their discontent with stagnant wages. In Sacramento, workers were able to get two coworkers rehired after they had been terminated by a computer algorithm; one had missed work to grieve a dying parent and the other to take care of her children. In Minneapolis, workers have walked out of their facility and stopped work to demand increased safety and more respect from management.
Workers across the US also collaborated to gather injury report records from US Amazon warehouses, and it should surprise no one when they learned that Amazon’s injury rate is at least twice that of similar industries. Amazon pushes its workers to the point of injury, then quickly disposes of them when they can no longer work. In the US, many Amazon workers are without healthcare, because they are temporary or part-time. Amazon offers these workers a measly Vision and Dental plan, hardly a comprehensive health plan, and workers never receive these benefits “on Day one” as they claim, because workers are always hired as temporary hires first. To add insult to injury, raising the wage to $15 caused many Amazon workers to lose their government provided healthcare, something Amazon will not offer its US employees unless it is required by law.
Starting Black Friday, Jeff Bezos will again take the massive profits generated by the workers of Amazon fulfillment centers during Peak for himself. He will continue to amass an obscene amount of wealth while his workers suffer, are forced to work long weeks, are treated like robots or cattle, are disposed of when injured, and are given no agency over their work and little agency over their lives. But the days of Amazon assuming it can exploit and abuse workers with no consequences are over. We are no longer willing to sit back and allow the richest man in the world to mistreat us. We are coming together, to act together, to fight back as a global movement, not just in one country, but in every country where Amazon does business. We made Jeff Bezos rich, and we deserve better than scraps from his table. We call on all Amazon workers across the globe to organize with your coworkers, fight for your issues, and make this company realize that without us, the work doesn’t happen. Without us, there is no Amazon. Workers of all nations unite, here and now, and we can change this company and the world.