BY Lorri Wickenhauser, The Western JournalJune 15, 2023
1 year ago
BY 
 | June 15, 2023
1 year ago

Breaking: Amazon Drivers Walk Out in Historic Strike – Panicked California Consumers Left in Lurch

A group of Amazon delivery drivers and dispatchers in Palmdale, California, walked off the job Thursday, a first for drivers in the U.S., according to a report.

Motherboard stated the unprecedented action is an attempt to get the Seattle-based online shopping giant to come to the bargaining table.

Amazon has refused that request in the past, maintaining that the 84 striking drivers are employed by Battle-Tested Strategies, not by Amazon itself.

But the Teamsters Union begged to differ, claiming in a news release that the e-commerce titan wields "absolute control" over Battle-Tested Strategies, also known as BTS.

BTS negotiated a union contract, but Amazon "has refused to recognize and honor [it]," the Teamster release said.

Instead, they continued, "Amazon has engaged in dozens of unfair labor practices in violation of federal labor law."

At issue, according to the Teamsters, are "low pay and dangerous working conditions."

Drivers have to contend with extreme temperatures in their box vans, the union said.

“The back of an Amazon van feels like an oven in the summer,” striking driver Cecilia Porter said, according to the Teamsters' statement.

“I’ve felt dizzy and dehydrated, but if I take a break, I’ll get a call asking why I’m behind on deliveries. We are protecting ourselves and saying our safety comes first.”

Raj Singh agreed, telling Motherboard, “The vans we have -- it’s a big metal container. In the extreme heat it can get upwards of 130, 135 degrees inside the van.

“You walk in, and it’s sweltering, the wave of heat that hits you -- the only comparison I can give you is like walking into an oven, because it’s that nasty dry heat.

"You feel like you’re just getting cooked back there. I go through 10-12 bottles of water a day, and I urinate once.”

Also at issue is pay. "We work hard for a multibillion-dollar corporation," Singh said, according to the Teamsters. "We should be able to provide food and clothes for our kids.”

Another driver, Jesus Gutierrez, said, “We know Amazon’s massive profits are only possible thanks to our labor.

“We will not stand by while Amazon breaks the law. We are holding Amazon accountable for our safety on the job.”

In October, dozens of Amazon workers at a San Bernardino, California, air hub staged a one-day walkout. They were seeking $5-per-hour raises, to about $22 per hour, and better working conditions, according to Bloomberg.

Amazon is facing unionization efforts across the country -- not just from drivers, but from package handlers and other job classifications, Bloomberg reported last fall.

The news outlet quoted a company statement as saying that "wages at its US facilities range from $16 to $26 an hour depending on position and location. Employee benefits include medical coverage and 401(k) retirement plans.

“While we are always listening and working on ways to improve the experience, we’re proud to offer compensation packages that not only include great pay, but also provide comprehensive benefits for regular full-time employees,” spokeswoman Mary Kate Paradis said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: Lorri Wickenhauser, The Western Journal

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