SHAKOPEE, Minn. (WCCO) – Monday is the start of Prime Day, the two-day holiday the online retail giant Amazon manufactured to get people to buy things over the summer months.
Yet, many of its workers are using Prime Day as a chance to push for higher wages. On Monday, roughly 100 Amazon workers plan to walk out of a warehouse facility in Shakopee for six hours.
Working conditions have long been a conversation between Amazon and its warehouse employees. Workers are disputing pay, physically demanding working conditions and a quota that supposedly requires they handle 600 orders per hour.
Amazon says it’s always looking to improve yet challenged anyone to compare its pay, benefits and working environment to other retailers in the Shakopee area.
This back and forth, according to business expert and University of Minnesota professor George John, looks like a pull to unionize. But he doesn’t see it getting very far unless it picks up traction beyond Shakopee.
Why? Because 100 workers protesting won’t really impact the customer.
“They’ll fulfill [the order] some other way,” John said. “They’ve got an incredibly sophisticated system so when you put in an order they will try to figure out where is that product available and where is the cheapest way of getting it to you – on time. So if the Shakopee warehouse is not functioning, what they’ll do is they’ll ship it out of a New Jersey warehouse or something else.”
There’s also a small group of tech employees expected to come from Seattle to join the protest.
Full statement from an Amazon spokesperson:
“Events like Prime Day have become an opportunity for our critics, including unions, to raise awareness for their cause, in this case, increased membership dues. These groups are conjuring misinformation to work in their favor, when in fact we already offer the things they purport to be their cause — industry leading pay of $15 per hour, benefits, and a safe workplace for our employees. We can only conclude that the people who plan to attend the event on Monday are simply not informed. If these groups — unions and the politicians they rally to their cause — really want to help the American worker, we encourage them to focus their energy on passing legislation for an increase in the federal minimum wage, because $7.25 is too low.”