Publish date:

Somali workers stage walkout at Amazon fulfillment center

They're demanding better working conditions from the retailer

Months of tensions between Amazon and its Somali workers in Minnesota came to a head Friday, when those workers staged a rally outside the retailer's fulfillment center in Shakopee.

The workers, who pick and package orders at the facility, are demanding that Amazon improve working conditions – including safety.

The primary concern is the increasingly fast pace at which the employees are expected to process orders. According to the New York Times, employees are now expected to pack 230 orders per hour – up from the previously required 160 orders per hour.

Workers say keeping up with Amazon's crushing schedule is causing them "shoulder, back, wrist, and knee injuries," KARE 11 reports. 

The station also says workers report having their progress tracked by a computer as soon as they clock in, and face write-ups or getting fired if they don't keep up.

And though Muslim workers are given paid time to observe their daily prayers, WCCO reports, "their time is interrupted when they leave the production line for prayer" – making it that much more challenging to satisfy Amazon's requirements. 

Helping to organize the Shakopee fulfillment center workers is the Awood Center, a nonprofit that advocates for the East African Community in Minnesota.

Activists from the center have been in talks with Amazon, but recent conversations with the company "failed to resolve concerns," the Star Tribune reported. 

The resulting rally on Friday had some serious backers, with state Rep. Ilhan Omar, newly elected to U.S. Congress, showing up to support the Amazon workers:

As the Star Tribune notes, this comes "at the height of the busy holiday season."

Amazon's response

Shortly after the protest began Friday, Amazon issued a statement, saying "we have a great safety record" and that "we work hard every day to ensure all of our employees are treated fairly and with dignity and respect...":

The company also claimed that "the majority of the people participating in today's events are not Amazon associates because most Amazon associates are at work today sending out thousands of holiday packages for customers."

"For them," the retailer said, "it was business as usual."

Next Up

vaccine, covid

New COVID charts show hospitalization, death rates based on vaccine status

The unvaccinated are far more likely than the fully vaccinated to become hospitalized or die.

Flickr - Superior National Forest Boundary Waters

White House begins process to ban new mining near BWCAW

The stated goal is to protect the "unique natural wonder" of the BWCAW.

Autumn Merrick, Autumn Rose Merrick

Man charged in shootout, crash that killed 18-year-old on scooter

Autumn Rose Merrick was with a friend near the Holiday gas station.

D Quagon - DOC photo

DOC searching for convicted sex offender who has gone on the run

The recently released man removed his GPS monitoring device.

Anthony Edwards

Timberwolves: 5 things you can count on for the 2021-22 season

The Timberwolves hope to return to relevance this season.

pickleball

With parking ramp roof empty most of time, Chaska adds pickleball courts

The top level isn't often used, so the entities teamed up to meet a growing need for pickleball courts.

Mauno Silpala

Former UN official ID'd as pedestrian killed in Alexandria

The native of Finland retired in 2005 and was living in Golden Valley.

Screen Shot 2021-10-20 at 9.37.24 AM

Here's what the future radar shows; 'a few robust' storms possible

Rain is on the way. Some hail is also possible in stronger storms.

Related

Amazon warehouse in Shakopee.

Dozens of workers stage walkout at Amazon's Shakopee center

It was a protest against the firing of a fellow worker.

Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 12.45.37 PM

Group of Shakopee Amazon workers stage walkout, company responds

There is anger among some workers at the Shakopee warehouse.

How a group of Twin Cities workers are taking on Amazon

Their successful efforts have attracted the attention of the New York Times.

amazon fulfillment center

Amazon to open fulfillment center in Lakeville next summer

The Lakeville City Council approved plans for the center on Monday.

Eagan Amazon workers call for better conditions

The mostly East African workers say they're exhausted and dehydrated.

Workers at Shakopee Amazon warehouse plan strike for 'Prime Day'

"Prime Day" is an incredibly busy day for Amazon.