Muslim Amazon workers reportedly protest about lack of time to pray
On December 14 a group of about 100 Muslim workers employed at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Shakopee, together with supporters chanted “Hear our Voice,” as they protested against alleged unfair working conditions.
The protestors voiced their dissatisfaction with Amazon’s unequal wages, lack of diverse leadership and how productivity gets managed at it's massive Minnesota facility.
Khadra Hassan, an employee, commented through an interpreter:
“The head of Amazon [Jeff Bezos] doesn’t know who his workers are or what they’re faced with. We are not getting what we need from Amazon.”
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While Khadra was three months pregnant, she said she passed out from the heat one day while lifting boxes and started bleeding, almost losing her baby.
After seeking medical assistance from Amazon’s health office, Khadra got denied because her benefits had not kicked in yet. Denying all claims a spokeswoman for Amazon, Ashley Robinson said:
“Everyone gets full comprehensive health insurance starting from day one. And we have upward mobility. They’re pretty great jobs, and we’re proud of our record.”
A single mother of two, Khadra Ibrahin, and Somali immigrant that has worked at Amazon’s Shakopee fulfillment center for two years said she dreads going to work every day and elaborated:
“Every time I walk through those doors, I am filled with this dread that tonight is going to be the night that I get fired. I have never felt threatened by a workplace like this before. I want to keep this job to provide for my family, and I am also working as hard as I can, but you can’t live under this type of pressure. The way Amazon pushes people is not moral.”
Multiple meetings got held between management of Amazon and leaders of the Twin Cities’ East African immigrant community. Concerns regarding religious accommodation and living in fear for the jobs got spoken about, but so far nothing has changed.
Ibrahin also said that workers in the warehouse get strict hourly packing quotas and get pressured to “make rate,” the rate changes continually depending on the season’s demand.
The current packing rate in the warehouse is 240 boxes an hour, although it has been as high as 400 per hour. Falling behind on the hourly packing rate causes a write up from the manager, and can lead to getting fired.
Dozens of police officers lined the front entrance of Amazon during the peaceful protest. However, their intervention was not required as they eventually retreated to the street. No one got arrested during the workers' protest.
After all, Muslims arrived with Columbus and wanted the same rights as everyone else. They apparently even helped build the White House, as it got made during a time where Muslim people were slaves, and slaves built the iconic building.
Thomas Jefferson once said that he knows the American experiment was a success if they can get a Muslim as president. But all these workers at the Amazon warehouse want is fair pay and working conditions that allow them to be able to honor their religion.
Unrelated events that took place recently also forced Amazon to make some changes regarding holding third-party packages from sellers.
The company had seen a notable rise in safety violation reports, from only two reported in 2009 in comparison to 42 violation reports this year.
The most recent incident occurred on December 5 when a container filled with bear repellent got punctured and left several workers exposed to chemicals that cause severe burns.
Resellers who do not comply with safety regulations will be charged penalty fees to hold third-party sellers responsible for the safety aspect of their packages.