Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos grew his net worth by more than $400 million in a 24-hour period this week. Meanwhile, his workers are laboring away in oppressive heat with no air conditioning.

On Tuesday, Seattle Times real estate reporter tweeted that Bezos had grown his total wealth by an astonishing $41 billion in just the first half of 2018, with $405 million of that coming in a 24-hour time span. By comparison, Amazon workers’ median salary last year was roughly $28,000 (which Bezos apparently makes every 10 seconds).

Given that summer just started, this may beg the question as to why some of Amazon’s warehouse workers are having to sweat through their shifts in facilities with no air conditioning.

Recently, the Awood Center — an organization in Minneapolis, Minnesota that advocates for East African workers — held a press conference featuring the voices of workers at the Amazon warehouse in Eagan, Minnesota. Workers said it was so hot in the building due to a lack of air conditioning that Muslim workers had to break their Ramadan fast to drink water. Amazon countered that its break room is air-conditioned (even though employees spend the vast majority of their shift on the floor, not in the break room).

“The site is equipped with air conditioning in the break areas and fans throughout the building,” the company said in a public statement. “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.”

After the press conference, Amazon general manager Christopher Warren, who oversees the Eagan facility, took the workers’ demands and promised to semd them up the chain of command, though notably didn’t promise that there would be air conditioning installed.

“I respect our workers,” Warren told the workers. “We’ll take this to the powers that be and we’ll go from there.”

According to Fox News, Amazon has come under fire in the recent past for unusually hot warehouses, leading to at least two worker deaths in 2014. As of this writing, Bezos has not spoken publicly about addressing the lack of air conditioning in Amazon warehouses.

 

Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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