Long Island City, Queens, NY – 2018: Amazon Protests outside potential headquarters HQ2 building in LIC New York. – Image
Workers at Amazon’s Staten Island packing facility say Jeff Bezos deserves a lump of coal in his stocking for running roughshod over them, especially during the busy holiday season.
Over a hundred Amazon workers and their supporters gathered outside the facility on Monday to protest working conditions that they say only worsen as the e-tailing giant gears up to deliver a rush of packages ahead of Christmas and Hanukkah.
The workers, who gathered outside the warehouse around 5:30 p.m., carried signs, chanted slogans and demanded a manager emerge from the building to accept a petition signed by 600 people — and addressed to Amazon chief executive Bezos, tied for the richest man in the world with Bill Gates.
Their petition demands longer work breaks and more dedicated MTA buses to the far-flung facility. It also protests newly released injury data showing that the rate of worker injury at the facility is three times higher than similar warehouse work.
“It has become clear that our safety is a secondary concern in your eyes, lagging far behind line speed,” the petition said. “There are only weak plans in place to prevent more pain, more injuries, and more deaths as we enter the hardest time of the year,” the letter said.
Amazon’s eyebrow-raising injury rates at the warehouse, which opened in 2018, were released Monday by labor advocacy group Make the Road New York-based on Amazon’s own submissions to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Among the injuries reported were sprains and strains from pushing, pulling and lifting machinery and merchandise.
And because the facility is kept at an overly warm temperature, workers sometimes pass out from overheating, said Frank Kearl, staff attorney for Make the Road.
“There are serious structural problems in the way that facility is operating,” Kearl said.
The company pushed back, however, saying Amazon is being penalized in part for being diligent about reporting workplace injuries.
“There’s a dramatic level of under-recording of safety incidents across the industry – we recognized this in 2016 and began to take an aggressive stance on recording injuries no matter how big or small,” the company said. “It’s inaccurate to say that Amazon fulfillment centers are unsafe.”
If the workers get their way, they will be granted three 30-minute breaks during a 10-plus hour shift instead of two 15-minute breaks plus one 30-minute break for lunch. They will also see Amazon push to increase public transportation options to the facility.
“There are people who aren’t going to the bathroom or not drinking water because they are too scared,” said Hiba Aly, who was fired last week from her job as an Amazon sorter. “You get penalized for ‘time off task’ to use the bathroom or drink water,” during non-break times, Aly explained.
During the peak holiday season, breaks become even more necessary because Amazon requires packers to work overtime, whether they want to or not, and discourages them from taking time off, sources told The Post.
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