Amazon workers’ recent historic win in New York to unionize turbocharged a labor movement now spreading from warehouses to its air cargo network.
According to the Washington Post, workers at Amazon’s San Bernardino airfreight fulfillment center in Southern California on Monday left their posts in protest for higher pay and benefits.
“We’re not making enough to save anything … If something goes wrong with my car, I don’t have savings. I can’t afford to eat healthy food. I have to buy chicken nuggets or noodles,” said Sara Fee, a lead organizer of Inland Empire Amazon Workers United, who sorts packages at the air hub.
Inland Empire Amazon Workers United said 150 workers from the Amazon Prime Air facility in San Bernardino walked out, while Amazon told WaPo (a Jeff Bezos-owned newspaper) it was more like 74 employees. This is the first instance of a coordinated labor action to hit Amazon’s air cargo network.
The workers are demanding a $5 per hour increase, health benefits, more safety standards inside the facility, and an end to “retaliation at the warehouse,” according to the organization’s Twitter account.
The facility has approximately 1,500 workers and is the company’s seventh air terminal in California that uses Amazon Prime cargo planes to send packages across the country.
Here are some of the 150+ workers who just walked out of the Amazon Air Hub in San Bernardino to demand higher wages.
— Lauren Kaori Gurley (@LaurenKGurley) August 15, 2022
Another worker at the airfreight fulfillment center is Anna Ortega. She participated in yesterday’s walkout and hopes Amazon can increase her hourly pay because “it doesn’t make any sense that people who work here should be on food stamps or struggling financially.”
NEW: 160+ Amazon workers just walked off the job at an air freight facility in San Bernardino, CA.
900 workers signed a petition in July calling for a $5 raise. Amazon responded by advising workers to use apps like GasBuddy to save money.
Today workers walked out to protest. pic.twitter.com/fyElXU7Obh
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) August 15, 2022
Organizers tweeted that Inland Empire, a metro area that includes the cities of San Bernardino and Riverside and borders Los Angeles County to the west, has “the largest warehouse hub in the US. It is the heart of our country’s supply chain and is made possible by hundreds of thousands of working people like us.”
This may suggest that more significant labor action in this area could create supply chain bottlenecks for Amazon and is something to keep an eye on.
Monday’s walkout highlights the growing labor movement within Amazon that is spreading after a New York fulfillment center unionized several months ago.