By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Amazon’s biggest sale of the year is underway. Customers around the country are cashing in on Prime Day.

Not only are there deals on door buster items and Amazon devices, but the online retailer says it has seen many customers buying things like school supplies for later this year.

Amazon isn’t the only company trying to make big sales this week. Walmart, Target, eBay and Best Buy are all holding their own sales.

“We’re in a hyper competitive environment, retail has always been that way,” said Cem Sibay, Amazon Prime’s vice president. “The month of July is no different.”

Here in the Twin Cities, labor leaders are using Prime Day to call attention to conditions in the Amazon warehouses by going on strike.

Protesters have been marching since 2 p.m. Monday. This is the fifth year Amazon has done Prime Day, and this year they made it even bigger by making it a two day event.

But employees wanted to make a statement by striking on day one of Prime Days to tell Amazon they want better treatment.

Dozens of people walked out of the Shakopee Amazon Fulfillment Center demanding safer working conditions and less demanding quotas.

“I sustained a workplace injury a few months ago,” said Meg Brady, an Amazon Fulfillment associate. “I have been out on medical leave and that really pushed me over the edge to want to do something more.”

These workers also want more temporary jobs to become full-time positions at Amazon. A small group of protesters flew in from Seattle to show support.

“We want to help them to create a better and more sustainable company which would include, for all the workers– really the backbone of the company– who are the reason that we are able to ship out the products that we do,” said Rajit Iftikhar, a software engineer on strike.

A spokesperson for Amazon said there are 1,500 full-time employees at this location. Mahammud Hirsi, who didn’t go on strike, started as a part-time associate at Amazon four years ago and is now a full-time manager.

He says he thinks the company does a lot to make employees happy and safe.

“Almost all the issues that some of them are claiming we’re already doing that here,” Hirsi said. “I do know that there’s inclusivity, there’s diversity– if you want to progress in your career it’s available.”

In response to the protest, an Amazon spokesperson gave this statement to WCCO:

“Roughly 15 associates participated in the event outside of the Shakopee fulfillment center. It was obvious to the 1500-full-time workforce that an outside organization used Prime Day to raise its own visibility, conjured misinformation and a few associate voices to work in their favor, and relied on political rhetoric to fuel media attention. The fact is that Amazon provides a safe, quality work environment in which associates are the heart and soul of the customer experience, and today’s event shows that our associates know that to be true. We encourage anyone to come take a tour anytime.”

The employees on strike plan to be out for six hours. If you’re worried how this will affect your order if you buy one of the Amazon Prime deals, Amazon said they will not be impacted.

Kate Raddatz

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