Amazon Prime Day — which is taking place on both Monday and Tuesday — is marketed as a time for online shoppers to save. But for Amazon workers, it’s referred to as “two months of hell.”
Screenshots from a private Facebook group for roughly 18,000 workers at Amazon’s “fulfillment centers” around the country show horror stories employees say they have to endure in the time leading up to Prime Day. Because Amazon Prime customers expect one-day shipping on items they order, Amazon workers say they’re required to work mandatory overtime, including 12-hour shifts, six days a week.
Last year, Prime Day resulted in customers ordering 100 million products that fulfillment center workers have to then pick, pack, and ship.
“The workflow is intense,” Amazon worker Meg Brady told NBC News. “Some workers are on six, 12-hour days for the week of Prime. You work, go home and sleep for six hours and come back out.”
In exchange for their exhaustive labor in preparation for and during Prime Day, Amazon workers say that the company provides minimal perks. According to Brady, workers aren’t given any extra monetary compensation or paid time off, but “a special Prime Day t-shirt and sometimes a special treat.”
“During the week of Prime, you’l get a snack. Like a granola bar,” Brady said.
Amazon warehouse workers who are going on strike during Prime Day to protest working conditions want to further highlight the plight of employees who work for a trillion-dollar company headed by the wealthiest person in the world. As Grit Post has previously reported, Amazon warehouse workers have to endure working conditions so heinous that they frequently contemplate suicide. One fulfillment center employee in Kentucky with Crohn’s Disease said Amazon fired him for taking too many bathroom breaks.
“It’s this isolating colony of hell where people having breakdowns is a regular occurrence,” former Amazon employee Jace Crouch told The Daily Beast.
In response to NBC’s report about Amazon workers’ working conditions, a company spokesperson said
“We have a focus on ensuring area organization and readiness to contribute to our success in being safe,” Amazon said. “This is leading up to one of Amazon’s biggest days all year — from the fun and energy in our fulfillment centers — and you get to see firsthand how Amazon is delivering smiles.”
I asked Amazon to respond to the workers' complaints made in the group (and by the Minnesota strikers) and got one of the strangest comments I've ever received. pic.twitter.com/t6njZs7vLd
— Brandy Zadrozny (@BrandyZadrozny) July 15, 2019
One American Amazon warehouse participating in the Prime Day strike is in Shakopee, Minnesota, where workers walked off the job last year in protest of the facility’s working conditions — joined by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota). Employees at the facility said there was no air conditioning in the fulfillment center during the hot summer months, leading some employees to pass out from heat exhaustion.
“The pace of work is inhumane,” striker Mohamed Hassan told Jacobin. “Everyone feels continuously threatened by the system.”
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.