A group of Amazon Inc. (AMZN) employees walked off from their job on Monday at an air freight facility in San Bernardino, California, demanding better pay and working conditions, in the latest sign that worker organizing efforts continue to spread across the tech giant’s vast retail and logistics network.
The group of workers who organized the walkout call themselves the Inland Empire Amazon Workers United, and claimed in online posts that more than 150 employees participated in the walkout. Amazon, however, disputes this figure and said that only 74 workers took part in the walkout. By either measure, the demonstrators represented a small fraction of the 1,500 employees at the Amazon air facility, known as KSBD.
In an online statement, organizers said they had amassed more than 800 signatures for a petition calling for the base pay rate at the facility to be raised to $22 an hour, up from $17. The worker organization cited the rising rent and cost of living in the area in their statement demanding better pay.
In the statement, the organizers also claimed “unsafe heat conditions” remain in many work areas, and noted that temperatures reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit or above at the San Bernardino cargo airport on two dozen days last month.
Paul Flaningan, an Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement that the company is “proud to provide full-time employees at our San Bernardino Air Hub and throughout the region a minimum starting wage of $17 an hour.” Flaningan added that full-time employees can earn up to $19.25 an hour and also receive “industry-leading benefits including health care from day one, 401(k) with 50% company match, and up to 20 weeks paid parental leave.”
“While there are many established ways of ensuring we hear the opinions of our employees inside our business, we also respect their right to make their opinions known externally,” the statement added. “While we’re always listening and looking at ways to improve, we remain proud of the competitive pay, comprehensive benefits, and engaging, safe work experience we provide our teams in the region.”
The walkout comes in the wake of unions getting formed at other Amazon facilities. Earlier this year, workers in a Staten Island, New York, warehouse voted to form the first US union in Amazon’s history. Workers have also pushed to unionize at a facility in Bessemer, Alabama, and at an Amazon Fresh location in Seattle.
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