A dozen Amazon workers and a handful of supporters went on strike at Eagan’s warehouse Tuesday morning to protest plans to end their noon shift.
About 30 Amazon Delivery Station Warehouse employees are facing layoffs due to their inability to switch to late-night shifts, according to employees. Their last working day is November 12th.
Ethan Kelly, who is in charge of traffic control for Amazon’s drivers and is facing layoffs, said Amazon made the decision to lay off workers because the 9 a.m.-1 p.m. He said it was because it turned out to be excessive. Amazon gave many employees on shift the choice of moving to other warehouses in the Twin Cities subway or working 8pm to 1am shifts at the Eagan location.
Workers who chose neither option would receive two months of severance pay, which is less than their current wages, and could reapply for a job at Amazon in the future, protesters said. .
Kelly, 38, said all available opportunities at Amazon’s other stores were night shifts and she couldn’t work during those hours because she had to take care of her children.
Kelly joined several workers on Tuesday who asked Amazon to maintain its current working hours. The Awood Center, a labor rights organization that supports warehouse workers in East Africa, helped coordinate the protests.
“In the end, I lose my job,” Kelly said. “That’s why we’re here. We didn’t have a choice.”
Amazon representatives did not return requests for comment on Tuesday.
The protest started at 9am during shift change and lasted for about 45 minutes. Workers wore neon work clothes, carried signs, banged pots and marched to warehouse entrances, shouting slogans such as “No Justice No Peace” and “No Rights No Peace”.
At one point, an Amazon supervisor told attendees who were not company employees to leave the area. Organizers attempted to give supervisors a list of written demands, among which was to “stop enforcing unfair work schedules on speaking workers.” The supervisor said he was not authorized to accept the request, prompting boos from the crowd.
Ari Burdell, 61, works with Kelly in traffic control. He also said he cannot work late because he has to watch over his adult son, who has epilepsy and sometimes has nighttime seizures.
Ali said he has worked at Amazon for three years and is looking for a new job.
Sahra Ali works as a picker who moves 35-40 large boxes an hour from one warehouse location to another. Her 41-year-old Sahra said her retinal condition was affecting her vision and prevented her from getting her driver’s license. She relies on her Metro Mobility for transportation to her workplace, which her agency cannot accommodate her during her night shift, she said.
Sahra, 41, has been working at Amazon for over four years. She said some workers were on the noon shift for a year, but could stay on while more senior colleagues were forced out. said he didn’t know how the company decided which employees would be asked to change shifts or locations.
“Some of the employees who were laid off have been here for four years and others who just started working here,” Sahra says. “It’s unfair.
Fadumo Muse, 50, also works the noon shift as a picker. She is a single mother of her five children and said she could not work the night shift. Fadumo appealed to management to keep her shift, but she got nowhere.
“I try to communicate with them, but they treat me like they don’t care,” she said.
Tuesday’s protests follow similar strikes at Amazon’s warehouses in the Twin Cities over the past few years. They are protesting working conditions, such as the lack of religious facilities.
Some of the employees who left Tuesday speculated that Amazon would hire them for other jobs during the next holiday season rush.
“They expect us to come back on vacation and peak work during the holidays,” Kelly said.