Amazon workers stage protest outside fulfillment center in Shakopee

“People who are going to receive those gifts... need to know that every worker here is not fully happy,”

Edgar Linares
December 14, 2018 - 8:39 pm

By Edgar Linares

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Online retail giant Amazon is taking some heat at its large fulfillment center in Shakopee.

On Friday, hundreds rallied outside the warehouse demanding better working conditions. The protest comes at the height of the Christmas shopping and shipping season.

Majority of the employees at the center are East African and said they want Amazon to be fair when it comes to productivity demands.

Khadra Qassim, an Amazon employee, said not too long ago employees were required to pack 90 boxes every three hours, soon after that changed 180. Qassim also said when she began working she was told she would get help when lifting heavy items.

“The amount of weights I actually pick up, that was different. The rate and what we were expected to work at, and monthly that was actually changing continuously… increasing,” said Qassim through an interpreter.

Workers said they were forced to rally after meeting with Amazon management twice and not seeing a difference. Joining the group was U.S. Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar, who said she knew first-hand what they were going through after working numerous jobs after immigrating to Minnesota.

“People who are going to receive those gifts, the packages that you guys are putting together, need to know that every worker here is not fully happy,” said Omar. “Their dignity is not being uplifted for the honest work their putting in, it’s not being respected.”

Qassim believes the company maybe exploiting their immigrant workforce.

“I do believe that is the case. One, because we are new, we are newcomers and might not be familiar with the system. Secondly, because we are refugees. And thirdly, because we’re humans and this is inhumane,” she said through an interpreter.

By Edgar Linares

WCCO Radio did ask an Amazon employee at the fulfillment center for a statement, but we were told one was not prepared. However, Amazon did issue a statement to other news outlets saying the following:

“We work hard every day to ensure all our employees are treated fairly and with dignity and respect, including here in Minnesota where we have an open and direct dialogue with employees. Amazon offers a great employment opportunity with excellent pay – ranging here from $16.25-$20.80 an hour, and comprehensive benefits including health care, up to 20 weeks parental leave, paid education, promotional opportunities, and more. I encourage anyone to compare our pay, benefits, and workplace to other retailers and major employers in the Shakopee community and across the country. We invite anyone to see for themselves and take a tour through our fulfillment center tour program." (From Vox.com)