Dozens of Amazon Air cargo workers walked out in the middle of their shift on Monday to protest pay and safety conditions.
According to The Washington Post, more than 150 of the 1,500 employees at the San Bernardino facility participated in the strike. Amazon disputes that figure, claiming that 74 employees walked off the job.
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This was the first coordinated labor action in the company’s air freight division, and it occurred at the largest Amazon Air hub in California. Workers organizing under the banner of Inland Empire Amazon Workers United led the protest.
The alliance has urged Amazon to raise the base pay rate at the KSBD facility from $17 per hour to $22. According to Amazon, full-time employees receive benefits and can earn up to $19.25 per hour.
The Inland Empire Amazon Workers United has also complained about working conditions, claiming that temperatures at the airport reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit on 24 days in July, according to CNBC.
Following previous complaints about the heat, managers are said to have opened more rest areas. “They say there’s air conditioning, but you can only feel it in certain areas,” Daniel Rivera, a strike leader, told the Post. According to an Amazon spokesperson, the highest recorded temperature in the hub is 77 degrees.
The workers who walked out do not intend to file for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board at this time, but they are open to the idea given the company’s recent wave of unionization efforts.
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Amazon has filed an appeal against a labor victory on Staten Island, New York. The outcome of a second election held at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, was too close to call, and hundreds of votes were challenged.