12/08/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/08/2021 13:11
Black, immigrant Minnesotans power Amazon's rapid expansion but bear stark human costs; warehouse conditions marked by racial pay inequities, high turnover, harmful discipline practices
TWIN CITIES, Minn.- As the U.S. grapples with a shortage of workers in the warehousing industry, a new analysis from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) reveals extreme worker injury rates, high turnover, racial pay inequities, and harmful surveillance and discipline practices at Amazon warehouses in Minnesota. The report comes as the corporate giant expands its footprint throughout the country and the state, promising massive growth yet raising grave concerns for workers and communities in Minnesota and beyond.
"Amazon has not lived up to its promise of providing economic security and safe and stable employment. Instead, it has left Minnesotans with injured bodies and unsustainable, dead-end jobs," said Rebecca Dixon, executive director of NELP. "It's time for Minnesota lawmakers and regulators to take action to address the harms to workers, families, and communities caused by Amazon's operations and hold this company to the standard of safe, family-sustaining jobs and healthy, equitable workplaces."
The report examines the newest data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Census, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics for Amazon warehouses in Minnesota, with a particular focus on the two longest-standing Amazon warehouses in the state, located in the Twin Cities suburb of Shakopee. Researchers identified the following job quality problems:
"When Amazon came to the Twin Cities, they intentionally and heavily recruited from the East African community. Everyone was excited and we were expecting good, safe, reliable jobs. Quickly, we learned that's not the case at Amazon," said Abdirahman Muse, executive director of The Awood Center, a community organization supporting workers. "As this report shows, Amazon has been reinforcing racial and economic inequities, rather than addressing them."
While Amazon has received attention nationally over poor workplace conditions, conditions at Minnesota's Amazon distribution facilities have historically been even worse on average than at other Amazon facilities around the country, with higher rates of serious injuries and more turnover.
"It's unacceptable that employees at Amazon's Minnesota warehouses stand a one in nine chance of being injured in a year and are more than twice as likely to get injured as those at non-Amazon warehouses," said U.S. Senator Tina Smith. "This disturbing treatment of Minnesota workers by one of America's largest and most profitable employers deserves greater attention and scrutiny. I'm grateful for the Awood Center and the National Employment Law Project's important work, which has exposed how Amazon views their workers as expendable."
The report emphasizes that the dangerously rapid pace of work at Amazon warehouses-which the company enforces through its disciplinary practices and electronic surveillance systems-are a major cause of the injury crisis at its warehouses. In sum, the report finds that employment at Amazon is dangerous and unsustainable for Minnesota workers and places a particular burden on Twin Cities Black and East African communities.
"I personally know people with knee, back, shoulder, hand injuries. People have left the job because of injuries. They can't go on," said J., an Amazon worker quoted in the report.
The report outlines recommendations for state lawmakers and regulators to address the urgent needs of the workers who have been adversely affected by the company's operations:
The Awood Center plans to host a press conference on Monday December 13th, where workers will react to the report's stunning findings.
READ THE NEW REPORT:
Injuries, Dead-End Jobs, and Racial Inequity in Amazon's Minnesota Operations