Workers at Amazon have been experiencing poor working treatment. A large portion of the workforce is East African men and women. According to Gizmodo, an design, tech and science web magazine, “For the last two years, Amazon has quietly expanded its presence in the suburb, and worker resentment towards conditions there has grown with it” This past Friday, at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota, there was a pep rally, Gizmodo stated “town… became the epicenter of the fight for humane working conditions at one of the world’s most valuable companies.” Workers complained of being deprived of basic necessities such as bathroom breaks, and religious obligations such as prayer for their Muslims employees.
This rally was to force Amazon’s corporate workers to improve the working conditions of their workers. The penalties for requesting a bathroom/prayer break is docked pay and after a certain amount of “strikes”, they may be terminated. Reporter Liz Sawyer from the star tribune wrote employees also complained of “what the protesters called a lack of diverse leadership, unequal wages.” Many expressed the work they’re doing to be tedious and require a lot from them. One Employee, Khadra Hassan reported to Star Tribune that she was working for Amazon while pregnant and the conditions were severe, so much so that she almost lost her baby. Sawyer said in the article, “She passed out while lifting boxes in the heat one day, she said and started bleeding. When she reported to Amazon’s health office for assistance, Hassan said she was denied services because her benefits hadn’t kicked in yet.” Now that is enough indication that Amazon does not care for its workers, yet they’re benefitting so much work from them.
As a faith organization, we stand with the workers of Amazon and demand they are given their rights. They deserve to be able to fulfill their religious obligations and safeguard their positions. Faith leaders were at the rally and spoke out on behalf of Muslim coalitions and faith communities in Minnesota. Imam Ahmed Anshur from Al-Ihsan Islamic Center in St. Paul, MN, spoke at the rally and these were his words, “When workers leave Amazon they still live with the back pain, chronic illness and hurt and harm caused during their employment. They live in unaffordable and low-quality housing. Their children are attending failing public schools. They come to pray in our mosques. They come to our community centers for support.” This affects us because these are our community members who’re coming to asking for help. Imam Mohamed Omar from Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, MN spoke at the rally as well, he stated, “All Minnesotans, no matter what they look like, where they come from or how they pray, deserves to be safe in their workplace and have a quality, affordable place, and community to live and take care of themselves and their families.”
In conclusion, as a faith community, we urge and demand Amazon workers to receive better working terms and rights. The workers make Amazon, just like in any company, if the employees aren’t treated well for their services rendered, that company won’t do well, no employees, no company. It is about time Amazon listened to the complaints of their employees, they are the ones doing the job that brings the company billions. We also thank Amazon for bringing many job opportunities to Minnesota and for the East African community. As faith leaders, we strongly believe it is a corporate responsibility to fully fund the Community Care Fund.