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As the holiday shopping season approaches, Amazon is dealing with a wave of walkouts and strikes.  

Source: The Verge

 

The second Prime Day sale of the year is currently underway on Amazon, and it’s being marketed as a means to grab Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals early. However, as it pursues customers, Amazon is facing demands for improved compensation and working conditions from the employees who handle the massive volume of shipments that pass through its facilities, warehouses, and air hubs. As Amazon prepares to enter one of its busiest seasons, the danger of strikes, walkouts, and maybe another unionized warehouse all loom.

On Wednesday, workers at Amazon’s ALB1 facility in Albany, New York, started voting on whether to organize with the Amazon Labor Union, the group that unionized Amazon’s JFK8 facility and which is currently negotiating with Amazon for a contract. Another fulfillment center in Moreno Valley, California, has also filed to hold a vote on whether to join with the ALU, though the National Labor Relations Board still has to confirm whether 30 percent of the unit’s 800 workers signed cards saying they’re interested in the election.

 

Why is Amazon facing walk-outs and unionization?

 

The reasons for the employee actions are varied; in Illinois, workers are demanding protection against violence, injury, and sexual harassment. In California, workers have been demanding “basic safety measures” after Amazon failed to respond to a walkout this summer, where workers accused the company of not giving them breaks or aid during excessive heat. High temperatures have actually been a concern in many areas — earlier this year, lawmakers cited how Amazon handled 2017 and 2018 heatwaves in their demand for information on its severe weather policies, and the company has reportedly installed new air conditioning equipment at a facility where a worker died during the last Prime Day event (the company blamed “a personal medical condition” for the incident).

According to Jane Chung from The Worker Agency, Amazon “failed to meet workers’ demands and has responded to workers who are organizing to improve their jobs by bringing in high-paid outside consultants who harass and follow workers around in an attempt to dissuade them from organizing for better conditions.” She also mentioned that its Prime Day events exacerbate its “invasive surveillance, the dangerous pace of work, and deadly conditions” because it means employees have to “sprint to fulfill the massive growth in packages ordered, transported, and delivered.”

 

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