As customers scramble to take advantage of Amazon's annual Prime Day sale — which actually lasts two days — the e-commerce titan's workers are striking at locations in both the U.S. and abroad. Even some consumers are calling for a boycott of Amazon.
The branded sales days reignited widespread criticism that Amazon has faced in recent years, including over low worker pay (despite CEO Jeff Bezos agreeing to a $15-an-hour minimum wage); poor factory and fulfillment center working conditions; and its work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
On social media, posts called for consumers to avoid the platform, as well as the businesses it owns, such as Whole Foods and Audible.
Amazon ($AMZN) has also faced backlash from its own employees for failing to act aggressively enough on climate change. Nearly 8,000 Amazon employees have now signed an open letter calling on the company to adopt a shareholder resolution that would encourage the company to commit to a timeline for reaching zero carbon emissions, end donations to politicians that deny climate change's existence, and transitioning completely off of fossil fuels, among other demands. Those proposals have not been taken up by Amazon's leadership.
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment from Cheddar by the time of publication.
At one warehouse in Shakopee, Minnesota on Monday, workers are striking for better conditions. In recent years, that fulfillment center has frequently been the site of organizing that pushes back against Amazon.
In an emailed statement to Cheddar, the Awood Center, a worker advocacy organization (which works primarily with the local East African community) said: "[w]orkers here in Minnesota have been pushing to get their demands heard for nearly 18 months. Instead of real progress on issues like safe & reliable jobs, respecting & promoting East African workers and addressing issues like climate change, they've been facing retaliation in the workplace."
"In order to show that they won't wait around any longer in the face of these injustices, workers decided to go on strike on Prime Day to show they are serious about achieving a voice on the job to win the things families in Minnesota and across the country deserve," the statement added.
Joining those workers are some tech employees from the Amazon's Seattle office who are hoping to pressure the company to take action on climate change.
"Lending our support to our coworkers in MN is a natural part of our climate justice priorities," said those Amazon tech workers traveling from Seattle in an email to signers of the open letter. "We cannot create a sustainable, long-term approach to addressing the climate crisis without addressing the structural racial and economic inequities that are part of our system of extraction—of energy, material, and human labor—that has caused the crisis."
Meanwhile, the Teamsters 1224, which represents pilots who fly for several airline carriers that deliver packages for Amazon, is sending one airline captain to Minnesota as well. Its members have also organized a digital ad campaign to coincide with Prime Day that accuses Amazon of underpaying and overworking its pilots.
"Pilots who fly for Amazon Air at Atlas Air, Southern Air and ABX Air stand in solidarity with the warehouse workers in Shakopee planning to strike on Prime Day," said Daniel C. Wells, a pilot and Teamsters member, in an emailed statement. "As we know firsthand, Amazon's business model too often neglects the well-being of the workers who make the e-commerce giant so incredibly successful."
In Germany, Amazon workers are also striking. Led by the Germany labor union Ver.di, the workers are hoping to achieve collective bargaining agreements and increased pay.
The action began on Sunday night and impacts seven Amazon locations. An estimated 2,000 workers are participating.
"While Amazon holds a giant Prime-Day bargain hunt, employees are deprived of a living wage," said Orhan Akmat, the federal secretary for Ver.di Commerce, in a statement via email. When asked how Amazon has responded to the organizing, he said Amazon maintains that the strikes have not impacted the company.
Meanwhile, the BBC reported that protests in the United Kingdom are expected to occur throughout the week.