Workers at Amazon MSP1 in Shakopee, Minn are celebrating, as management conceded to workers’ demands and are implementing a safety committee with worker leadership.
The moves came after MSP1 workers spoke out at the Awood Center’s East African Worker Forum in November demanding a safety committee with worker leadership at Amazon to address workplace injuries.
“It is very exciting that we workers have been able to pressure Amazon into expanding its safety committee and making it known to many more workers, although it is not a truly worker elected committee as we have been demanding,” said William Stolz, who works at MSP1. “But we still have to see whether Amazon will actually listen to worker concerns on the committee or just try and push its own agenda while its workers continue to get injured on the job.”
Working conditions at Amazon warehouses have been the subject of many reporting projects.
A recent report “Packing Pain: Workplace Injuries in Amazon’s Empire” shows that according to Amazon’s own internal injury documents highlighting that warehouse worker injuries skyrocket during the holiday season. The report acknowledges that part of the uptick in the number of worker injuries per week over the holiday season is likely due to an increase in the number of warehouse workers employed over the holidays. In 2016 and 2017, for instance, the company reportedly nearly doubled its workforce over the holidays.
“We know in this culture that this is the time of year shopping kicks into highest gear,” Dania Rajendra, the executive director at Athena, told Yahoo Finance. “It’s not a secret this is peak production time and that’s when people are under the most pressure to move as much merchandise as fast as possible.”
In addition to the spike in worker injuries over the holidays, the report found significant increases in the weekly number of 911 calls made from six facilities in the town of Hebron, Kentucky compared to the weekly number made from those facilities over the rest of the year, citing emergency call data for a period between 2017 and 2019.
In the days leading up to Black Friday, Reveal News obtained public injury logs from the Center for Investigative Reporting that were never previously available to the public. These logs from more than 20 Amazon facilities across the country show that the rates of serious injury at 23 fulfillment centers from which data could be obtained were more than double the industry average in 2018.
The information is incomplete but shows that in Shakopee, Minnesota in 2018, 270 workers were injured. The serious injury rate for the facility was 12.81 which is 3.2x the industry average. A more detailed report is available here.
The report and investigation come after years of Amazon workers telling Amazon that the rate is too high and that too many workers are getting injured.
In Minnesota, workers have held rallies and strikes over the last two years, gaining local, national and international attention calling for good, safe jobs for the thousands of Amazon employees in Minnesota.
Despite these growing concerns, MSP1 management hadn’t held a meeting of their management-selected “safety committee” since the spring of 2019, and on Tuesday abruptly announced upcoming meeting times after employee pressure. Workers have begun to initiate their own voting process to select worker-representatives.
“To see my fellow co-workers come together as a team to tackle safety concerns within Amazon is empowering,” said MSP1 employee Hafsa Hassan. “We all hope that Amazon takes these concerns seriously and becomes part of the solution instead of continuing to push for productivity to the point where workers’ safety is at risk. A worker-elected safety committee will ensure our voices are heard and our safety is a priority.”