Amazon workers in the US and 30 other countries are planning Black Friday protests
Amazon workers and union activists in some 30 countries, including the US, plan to walk out of work and hold other protests on Friday to demand better wages and working conditions.
The campaign that the groups are promoting on Twitter under the hashtag #MakeAmazonPaycoincides with Black Friday, a major shopping day for Amazon and other retailers.
As part of the protests, Amazon employees plan to walk out at a company warehouse in St. Peters, Missouri, on Friday, according to Athena, a coalition of local and national groups campaigning for workers’ rights at the e-commerce giant.
Work measures are also planned at Whole Foods stores owned by Amazon and other locations in Bessemer, Alabama; Columbia, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; Durham, NC; Garner, North Carolina; Joliet, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, DC
Amazon workers and activists will also gather outside a residence of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in New York City on Friday, Athena said.
“On Black Friday, already #MakeAmazonPay day, unions, civil society and progressive elected officials will stand shoulder to shoulder in a massive global day of action to denounce Amazon’s despicable multimillion-dollar campaigns aimed at crushing worker-led union efforts be made. ‘ said Christy Hoffman, general secretary of UNI Global Union, a group leading the protests, in a statement. “It’s time for the tech giant to stop its horrific, unsafe practices immediately, respect the law, and negotiate with workers who want to improve their jobs.”
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Among the countries where Amazon will face strikes and protests, according to UNI Global Union: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, South Africa, Turkey and Great Britain
Monika di Silvestre, an employee of Ver.di, a German consortium involved in organizing the #MakeAmazonPay campaign, told Bloomberg that workers are particularly concerned about Amazon using computers to monitor their productivity.
“Workers are under a lot of pressure with these algorithms,” she said. “It does not differentiate between workers whether they are old or have restricted mobility. Workers stay up at night just thinking about their productivity stats.”
Almost half of all injuries recorded at US warehouses in 2021 occurred at Amazon, according to the Strategic Organizing Center, a union federation.
“Amazon employed a third of all warehouse workers in the US, but was responsible for nearly half (49%) of all injuries in the warehouse industry,” according to the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC) report.
Amazon has previously defended its safety record, denying that injury rates are higher at the company’s warehouses.
Unions vs. Amazon: A Story of David and Goliath 05:00
The company is facing increasing pressure from workers to unionize in the US. Earlier this year, a warehouse on Staten Island in New York City became the first Amazon fulfillment center to organize, and other facilities have also applied for collective bargaining rights. Most recently, workers at an Amazon warehouse in upstate New York voted against unionization.
A federal judge last week ordered Amazon to stop retaliating against employees for engaging in workplace activities. The ruling comes in a court case brought by the National Labor Relations Board, which sued Amazon in March, demanding the reinstatement of a fired employee who helped organize the company’s Staten Island warehouse.
—The Associated Press contributed to this report.