Teamsters, Labor Allies Rally to Support Amazon Workers
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(ROCK TAVERN, N.Y.) — Amazon workers were joined by Teamsters and labor allies as they rallied today outside of the company’s massive SWF1 warehouse to protest low wages and dangerous working conditions. The rally was one of many coordinated actions by Amazon workers around the country on Cyber Monday, Amazon’s biggest shopping day of the year.
“We are fed up with Amazon putting its packages ahead of our safety,” said Keith Williams, an Amazon warehouse worker at SWF1. “We are rallying and practice picketing today to show Amazon that we are the ones who make this company so valuable and we deserve respect.”
The workers have been petitioning and marching inside the facility for months to improve conditions. The Amazon workers, organizing as SWF1United, have already forced the company to pay workers during some facility closures, to allow co–worker representation at disciplinary meetings, and to stop interfering with break time. Now they are calling for significant raises, slower conveyor belts, and equal treatment for promotions, among other demands.
At the rally, workers practiced walking a picket line, backed by local supporters, Teamsters semi-trucks, and a “greedy pig” inflatable.
“The Hudson Valley is expensive and we can’t afford decent housing on Amazon’s low wages,” said Thomas R. Walsh, an Amazon warehouse worker at SWF1. “I shouldn’t have to choose which bills to pay each month and I can’t imagine how tough it is for those with families. This trillion-dollar company can afford to pay us more.”
Last year, SWF1 workers were injured at a rate of 6.3 injuries per 100 full-time workers, higher than the national average for warehouses. Almost all of these injuries, 97 percent, required workers to miss days or be on light duty.
“Amazon violates New York’s Warehouse Worker Protection Act every day and specifically they are unclear about the unreasonable rates they make us work through,” said Taina Dominguez, an Amazon warehouse worker at SWF1. “With Cyber Monday and the holiday shopping season here, we are in danger unless we stand together and force Amazon to put our safety first.”
SWF1United has the support of local community organizations and labor unions.
“Amazon is driving down wages and working conditions across our industries,” said Dan Maldonado, President of Teamsters Local 445. “Teamsters are standing with Amazon workers because we will all rise or fall together. If workers across the industry are united, we will win this fight.”
“We won a historic contract at UPS by uniting warehouse workers and drivers. Now we are joining with Amazon workers because it will take all of us to defend our industry standards,” said Aldo Navarette, a part-time warehouse worker at UPS in the Hudson Valley and a member of Teamsters Local 804. “I know what it is like to be pushed beyond what is safe in the warehouse, but as a union member I have the power to protect myself. I’m supporting Amazon workers so they can have what I have as a Teamster.”
“We’re proud to support SWF1United as they rally and practice picket for pay increases and safer working conditions,” said Brahvan Ranga, Political Director at For the Many. “Amazon warehouse workers have been mistreated and exploited for far too long. History shows us that workers win when they organize and we will continue to stand with Amazon workers and the Teamsters as they take on Jeff Bezos and his greed.”