Immigrant rights and labor leaders used Amazon's Prime Day, the annual 48-hour shopping event that rakes in billions, to draw attention to workplace conditions, pay and the company's ties with ICE.
Protests met at Seattle's Amazon headquarters Monday in conjunction with protests in San Francisco and Portland. Warehouse workers in Minnesota also planned a six-hour work stoppage in a strike over working conditions.
"The nationwide protests come as ICE continues to raid and terrorize communities across the country, trap migrant children in inhumane environments at the border, and rip families apart -- a humanitarian crisis that Amazon has directly helped fuel, and threatens to exacerbate with continued marketing of its facial recognition software to ICE officials," read a press release from organizers.
Workers at Amazon's nonunion facilities in Minnesota began publicly complaining last year about harsh working conditions, increasing workloads, safety and limited advancement opportunities, according to a report from the Associated Press. The planned work stoppage overlaps the morning and evening shifts during the major sale.
The Seattle-based company, which says Amazon Prime has over 100 million paid members, called the organizers' allegations baseless, according to the Associated Press.
See video from the rally:
Amazon provided KIRO 7 with the following statements:
In response to protests: "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, benefits, and a safe workplace for our employees. We can only conclude that the people who plan to attend events today 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."
In response to "the company's ties with ICE:" "As we've said many times and continue to believe strongly, companies and government organizations need to use existing and new technology responsibly and lawfully. There is clearly a need for more clarity from governments on what is acceptable use of AI and ramifications for its misuse, and we’ve provided a proposed legislative framework for this. We remain eager for the government to provide this additional clarity and legislation, and will continue to offer our ideas and specific suggestions."
In reponse to allegations of poor workplace conditions: "As a company, we work hard to provide a safe, quality working environment for the 250,000 hourly employees across Amazon’s U.S. facilities. We provide a $15 minimum wage for all U.S. hourly employees, opportunities for career growth, industry-leading benefits, and hands-on training using emerging technology. Associates are the heart and soul of our operations, and in fact, they are also our number one recruiter for new hires by regularly encouraging friends and family to apply for roles. We encourage anyone to compare our pay, benefits, and workplace to other major employers across the country."
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