Employees at Amazon's delivery warehouse in Eagan are calling for better and more respectful working conditions.
The workers submitted a list of demands to Amazon managers Monday after a press conference was called by the Minneapolis-based Awood Center, the CAIR-MN affiliated organization that defends the rights of East African workers.
They were joined by representatives of local labor unions and workers' rights groups, as employees said they are working in increasingly dangerous conditions inside the delivery center.
The workers say they suffer from exhaustion, dehydration and injuries loading Amazon delivery vans with packages. They say many are working alone when they should be in 2-person teams, in a facility without air conditioning, according to the AFL-CIO.
The conditions have proved particularly strenuous during Ramadan, when the predominantly Muslim workers fast during daylight hours. The Awood Center notes that Amazon is one of the largest employers of East Africans in Minnesota.
"Recently, I couldn't work because I needed water," worker Nimo Hirad said through an interpreter, MPR reports. "I got so thirsty, I couldn't even swallow my saliva. I ended up breaking my fast and drinking water two days in a row."
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Among their other demands was for a prayer space that is more private, and a day off for Eid.
Amazon disputes the claims, telling Bring Me The News in a statement that it offers a "positive and accommodating workplace" for employees, including $15-per-hour pay plus benefits.
"The site is equipped with air conditioning in the break areas and fans throughout the building. We respect the religious practices of employees and offer accommodations as needed. We have a temporary prayer room at this location and are in the process of building a permanent one," it added.
Amazon has previously faced complaints for workers over oppressive heat in its delivery centers.
The company spent $52 million in 2012 retrofitting some of its warehouses following undercover investigations into the heat and working conditions endured by its workers, as described here by The Verge.