Amazon workers in the U.S. and 30 other countries plan Black Friday protests
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Amazon workers and labor activists in roughly 30 countries, including the U.S., plan to walk off the job and stage other protests on Friday to demand better pay and working conditions. 

The campaign, which the groups are promoting on Twitter under the hashtag #MakeAmazonPay, is timed to coincide with Black Friday, a key shopping day for Amazon and other retailers. 

As part of the protests, Amazon employees at a company warehouse in St. Peters, Missouri, plan to stop work on Friday, according to Athena, a coalition of local and national groups pressing for worker rights at the e-commerce giant. 

Labor actions are also planned at Whole Foods stores, which Amazon owns, and other locations in Bessemer, Alabama; Columbia, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; Durham, North Carolina; Garner, North Carolina; Joliet, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, D.C.

Amazon workers and activists on Friday also will rally in front of a residence owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in New York City, Athena said. 

“On Black Friday, in what has already been named #MakeAmazonPay day, unions, civil society and progressive elected officials will stand shoulder to shoulder in a massive global day of action to denounce Amazon’s despicable multimillion dollar campaigns to kill worker-lead union efforts,” said Christy Hoffman, general secretary of UNI Global Union, a group spearheading the protests, said in a statement. “It’s time for the tech giant to cease their awful, unsafe practices immediately, respect the law and negotiate with the workers who want to make their jobs better.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Global protest

Among the countries where Amazon will face strikes and protests, according to UNI Global Union: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, South Africa, Turkey and the U.K. 

Monika di Silvestre, an official with Ver.di, a German labor group helping to organize the #MakeAmazonPay campaign, told Bloomberg that workers are particularly concerned with Amazon’s use of computers to monitor their productivity. 

“The workers are under a lot of pressure with these algorithms,” she said. “It doesn’t differentiate between workers, whether they are old or have limited mobility. Workers stay awake at night thinking only of their productivity stats.”

Nearly half of all injuries recorded in U.S. warehouses in 2021 occurred at Amazon, according to the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of unions. 

“Amazon employed one-third of all warehouse workers in the U.S., but it was responsible for nearly one-half (49%) of all injuries in the warehouse industry,” according to the report by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC).

Amazon has previously defended its safety record and denied that injury rates are higher at the company’s warehouses.


Unions vs. Amazon: A David and Goliath story

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The company has faced mounting pressure in the U.S. by workers seeking to unionize. Earlier this year, a warehouse on Staten Island in New York City became the first Amazon fulfillment center to organize, and other facilities have also filed for collective bargaining rights. Most recently, workers at an Amazon warehouse in upstate New York voted against unionizing.

A federal judge last week ordered Amazon to stop retaliating against employees participating in workplace activism. The ruling came in a court case brought by the National Labor Relations Board, which sued Amazon in March seeking the reinstatement of a fired employee who was involved in organizing the company’s Staten Island warehouse.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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