Michigan Amazon workers join the national Prime Week strike

Michigan Amazon workers are joining a national strike against the e-commerce giant during the Amazon Prime week of sales.

Workers at the Amazon delivery station in Pontiac reported on Friday, April 14. July and joined eight other department stores across the country.

The strike comes on the heels of the company’s trademark sale: Amazon Prime Day. Prime Day, which is a member-exclusive sale, ran from July 11 to 12, though some deals continue through July 1[ads1]5.

Early data suggests that this year’s Prime Day sales could be the company’s most profitable to date. Consumers spent $12.7 billion during the two-day sale, up 6.1% from a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics. Amazon said July 11 was the biggest single day in the company’s history, but declined to provide totals.

Between 50 and 100 workers in Michigan walked out in solidarity with drivers and dispatchers in Palmdale, California, who began striking on June 24. Pontiac workers are not formally unionized. About 40 Teamsters from other sectors also showed up in support.

America’s first Amazon union formed in Staten Island in April 2022. The independent grassroots Amazon Labor Union has struggled to gain ground. Other Amazon workers, like those in Palmdale, have joined Teamster unions.

Workers in Michigan are on strike over unfair labor practices and an unsafe work environment, according to a Teamsters press release.

“We are on strike to stop Amazon’s unfair labor practices and get the respect we deserve,” said Alicia Ozier, a warehouse worker at the Pontiac delivery station. “Amazon puts productivity first and our security second. I have been injured when a box fell on my eye. The salary is too low to cover my bills. Amazon is a trillion-dollar company because of us, and we deserve to be treated fairly.”

The Pontiac workers submitted a petition to Amazon management in October 2022 demanding changes to their working conditions. Amazon rescinded an earlier peak season wage increase. Workers suffer injuries from heavy packages and fast-moving conveyor belts, according to the Teamsters.

Workers also complained that if they are only a few minutes late for a shift, Amazon deducts a full hour from their accrued unpaid time off. The workers marched against management wearing buttons calling for improvements.

The Teamsters allege that Amazon retaliated against workers who are leading the charge to organize.

“We certainly respect individuals’ right to peaceful protest, but our focus remains on ensuring that our employees and partners who deliver to customers are safe and able to work freely,” said Lisa Levandowski, an Amazon spokeswoman.

“We are grateful to them for their hard work and commitment. And with less than one percent of the employees at the facilities participating in today’s protest, we do not expect any significant impact on our operations.”

Some improvements have been made over the past few months, but more needs to be done by Amazon, said Nicolas White, a warehouse worker at the Pontiac plant.

Michigan workers joined the strike along with workers in California, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

“We invited them to extend the strike to Michigan because this is a fight,” White said. “Across the country, Amazon workers struggle with many of the same issues, from low wages to dangerous working conditions. When one of my colleagues was hit by a cart and needed medical attention, they were told to continue working because Amazon was short-staffed. We’re fighting back.”

More about MLive:

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The ‘right to work’ is abolished in a victory for organized labour

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