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Workers ‘Cite Awful Conditions Inside’ Amazon’s Monstrous Staten Island Fulfillment Center

Published Thursday, January 20, 2022
by Mark Gruenberg/People’s World
Workers ‘Cite Awful Conditions Inside’ Amazon’s Monstrous Staten Island Fulfillment Center

(STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK) - What’s it like toiling inside a big Amazon warehouse, which the corporate behemoth euphemistically calls a fulfillment center?  Two Workers employed inside the largest of the firm’s four warehouses on Staten Island say it’s awful - and those conditions are boosting the Union Organizing Drive at the facility, JFK8.

In telephone interviews with People’s World, Justine Medina and Brett Daniels, who are Members of Amazon Labor Union’s Organizing Committee, described backbreaking work, lack of information about COVID-19, 60-hour-plus workweeks, 20% of colleagues out with the virus, 10-hour shifts with “mandatory overtime” tacked on and two- and three-hour commutes.

Then there are the speedups.

Amazon keeps forcing its line to speed faster and faster.

“They’re so fast, you can’t really take safety into account,” Medina notes.

Sensors on assembly lines supposedly regulate the speed of goods dashing by, at 700 items per hour.

“Amazon covers them up,” Medina says of the sensors.

All this for pay just above New York City’s $15 hourly minimum wage and few benefits.

“Union Members make roughly $11,000 more per year than Non-Union Members,” the Union’s website says.

“They don’t care” about the Workers, says Daniels. “It’s profits over people.”

No wonder the Amazon Labor Union, an independent from-the-ground-up Union, begun by Chris Smalls, is gaining steam.

Amazon illegally fired Smalls in 2020 for leading a lunchtime walkout over lack of Coronavirus protection.

Smalls is suing Amazon in Federal Court and New York State Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James is probing if his firing broke State Laws too.

Amazon, of course, is fighting the Union tooth and nail.

Jeff Bezos, one of the three richest people in the U.S., controls the retail monster and distributor.

He’s so rich he pumped millions of dollars into hiring Union-Busters and breaking Labor Law to successfully stop the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) from organizing Workers at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama in 2021.

RWDSU’s campaign drew national attention, including an open strong endorsement from Pro-Union Democratic President Joe Biden.

Amazon’s law-breaking then skewed that vote, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said.

It threw out RWDSU’s election loss and ordered a rerun, which is expected in weeks.

Like the Bessemer Workers, Workers at JFK8 are among the Nation’s most-exploited, especially in race and class.

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