Amazon has made headlines through the years more than once and not always for the right reasons, especially when it came to the conditions its warehouse employees have to work in: it was reported that they are overworked, expected to work faster and faster, under close supervision and constant monitoring.
This year though, the workers from the U.S, UK and Germany have decided once again to rise and protest, during one of Amazon’s busiest days of the year: Prime Day.
The workers from Shakopee, Minnesota are spearheading the effort, with their UK counterparts getting ready for a week-long protest.
Their demands are straightforward: to be treated “with respect as human beings and not like machines,” as one employee put it.
In the shadow of these protests, 13 members of the Congress joined forces on Tuesday and asked the Department of Labor to carry out an investigation on all of Amazon’s U.S warehouses.
This group is led by Senator Bernie Sanders, which some of you might remember as a Democratic candidate for president, who is leading the effort alongside Rep. Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota.
“People who work for a company owned by the wealthiest person in America should not have to risk their lives, health or well-being on the job,” Sanders has said in a statement, referring to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “They must be treated with dignity and respect.”
This is not the first time Sanders speaks out against Amazon: just last year, he called out the company and asked it to raise the minimum wage and subsequently congratulated it when it finally did so, in October.
Sanders and the other 12 members of the Congress outlined the issues that want to be investigated and mentioned that they have listened to a number of stories coming directly from Amazon employees who have detailed the poor conditions they had or still have to work under.
Some of these included working at high temperatures, high risk of injury and/or death, close monitoring which led them to avoid taking bathroom brakes so they won’t fall behind on their numbers when it came to packaging or picking as well as mental health issues derived directly from these poor working conditions.
The Congress member letter states that a Navy veteran and former Amazon employee has told them that “there was a point where I would find myself crying on my shift… I really felt like I just didn’t wanna be alive anymore.”
“This work environment creates a high risk of physical injuries, a risk increased by Amazon’s intentional disregard for the health and safety of their employees,” the letter says.