After Amazon recently selected Queens as a site to build one of its two new headquarters, many people expressed concerns for a myriad of reasons. One of which was that existing employees in a new Staten Island fulfillment center were already experiencing problematic working conditions.
Now, those employees have officially launched a campaign to unionize. They claim Amazon “treats them like robots” and would rather the company invest in improving their workplace rather than opening a new headquarters while “raking in tax breaks” that the governor offered in the bid to bring headquarters to New York.
Improving working conditions
Employees are working with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which had already expressed concerns about Amazon’s past hindrance of unions. RWDSU has backed previous organizing efforts at Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired in 2017.
The union believes the tax breaks Amazon is receiving from the state, which RWDSU believes could be up to $3 billion, gives employees leverage so the company doesn’t retaliate against unionizers.
Among employees’ concerns they want addressed at the fulfillment center are:
- A lack of safety
- Inadequate pay
- Long shifts, typically 12 hours, with insufficient breaks
- Unreasonable hourly quotas
- Waiting in long lines for security checks, for which their added time is not paid
Organizing against a large corporation like Amazon can be intimidating, and employees in similar situations can often benefit from legal counsel. A law firm within experience representing unions and their members can help unionizers understand their rights and be a source for advice.