The group of workers organizing the strike is called Inland Empire Amazon Workers United and claimed in online posts that more than 150 workers took part in their coordinated work stoppage on Monday. Amazon disputes that figure, however, and says 74 workers participated in the walkout. By any measure, the protesters made up less than 15% of the 1,500 total employees at Amazon’s overhead facility, known as KSBD, though walkout organizers told CNN Business they were the majority of the shift that was taking place at the time.
In the statement, organizers also said “hazardous heat conditions” remain in many work areas and noted that temperatures had reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit or higher at San Bernardino Cargo Airport for two dozen weeks. days last month.
“Working in the heat feels suffocating,” said a worker identified as Melissa Ojeda in the statement released by the group. “You have to take breaks and you can overheat very easily. They don’t make it easy to take breaks to allow your body to cool down.”
Paul Flaningan, a spokesperson for Amazon, said in a statement provided to CNN Business that the company is “proud to provide full-time employees at our San Bernardino airline hub and throughout the region with a minimum wage of departure of 17 dollars an hour”. Flaningan added that full-time employees can earn up to $19.25 an hour and also enjoy “top-tier benefits, including health care from day one, 401(k) with a match of 50% of the company and up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave”.
“While there are many established ways to ensure that we hear the opinions of our employees within our company, we also respect their right to make their opinions known externally,” the statement added. “While we are always listening and looking for ways to improve, we remain proud of the competitive salary, comprehensive benefits and engaging and safe work experience we provide to our teams in the region.”
Ongoing organizing efforts within Amazon continue to enjoy support from labor rights advocates and progressive politicians across the country, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has long been a vocal critic of the company.