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Amazon Employees Plan Prime Day Strike to Protest Working Conditions

Could the work stoppage delay customer orders?

Flickr/Tony Webster

Amazon treats its customers well, providing an unprecedented selection of items, most of which can be delivered within a day or two. It’s not quite as nice to its employees, however, at least according to a vocal group in Shakopee, Minnesota.

Amazon workers at a warehouse there will strike for six hours on July 15, the first day of the company’s annual Prime Day extravaganza.

“Amazon is going to be telling one story about itself, which is they can ship a Kindle to your house in one day, isn’t that wonderful? We want to take the opportunity to talk about what it takes to make that work happen and put pressure on Amazon to protect us and provide safe, reliable jobs,” William Stolz, one of the organizers, told Bloomberg.

More specifically, they’re demanding that the company reduce the quota of orders each worker must fill — current demands of 200-300 per hour are dangerous, they contend. The workers also want the company to offer more temporary employees the job security of a permanent role.

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Amazon says the strike is much ado about nothing.”The fact is Amazon offers already what this outside organization is asking for,” its statement begins. In addition to “excellent pay,” the company claims to offer “comprehensive benefits including health care, up to 20 weeks parental leave, paid education, promotional opportunities, and more” and that its benefits compare well to similar jobs in Shakopee.

Amazon has more than 100 warehouses in the United States, each of which employs a couple of thousand people. With such an expansive network, a temporary stoppage at one facility seems unlikely to have a massive impact on the customer experience even on a busier than usual day like Prime Day.

The real impact of the strike is likely as a building block for a nascent labor movement among the company’s workers, an effort that encompasses formal complaints, strikes in European facilities, and pressure from politicians like Bernie Sanders.