Amazon Warehouse Workers Wage Work Stoppage in Protest After Fire Breaks Out

According to the union representing the workers, hundreds of Amazon workers protested Monday’s fire at their warehouse in Staten Island.

According to Amazon Labor Union, (ALU), over 650 employeesAround 8 pm on Monday, protestors began to protest that they could still smell the stench of the fire that had been set in a trash compactor earlier in that day. Night shift workers were taken toThe fire broke out in the break room, and they refused to leave. were toldby managers to go back to work, the union stated; to ALU leaders, managers threatenedWorkers with write ups will be fired if they continue to protest.

According to ALU, the work stoppage lasted for nearly three hours. portion of the workers marched into the manager’s office to demand that workers get sent home with pay. Workers also protested an offer of 25 cent raises that the company had made in the past week — which the union called “insulting” and said would amount to a pay cut due to inflation — and the fact that workers at the warehouse have still yet to have their union recognizedBy the $1.2 trillion company.

According to ALU, the Amazon workers may have taken the largest collective action yet. It is also the union’s first major work stoppage since it voted to unionize earlier this year.

Seth Goldstein is a lawyer for the union. told MotherboardWorkers said that the compactor that caught alight had been malfunctioning for weeks and was smoking.

“God forbid they have to replace [the compactor] and lose their profits,” said Goldstein. “One of the reasons people are unionizing at Amazon is because the employer cares about profits, and doesn’t care about their lives. Where’s the transparency here?”

According to New York Times’s Noam Scheiber, one employee saidThe warehouse smelled still like fire on Tuesday. Another employee stated that day shift workers were also responsible for the warehouse’s smell. had been sent home early.

Amazon claimed that the stoppage only involved a “small group” of employees. “[Yesterday afternoon] there was a small fire in a cardboard compactor outside of JFK8, one of our facilities in Staten Island, New York,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “All employees were safely evacuated, and day shift employees were sent home with pay. The FDNY certified the building is safe and at that point we asked all night shift employees to report to their regularly scheduled shift.”

Chris Smalls, President of ALU said on Twitter that the fire was especially dangerous because Amazon has a “lack of safety drills.”

Workers and labor advocates agree that safety concerns are a constant problem at Amazon. Six Amazon workers were killed in a tornado that caused an Amazon warehouse in Illinois to collapse late last year. This was a tragedy that had progressive implications. Legislators raised concerns about what they wrote was a “wholly inadequate safety culture at Amazon, which potentially contributed to the death of six workers.”

Workers said that Amazon’s policy of not allowing them to have smartphones on their person at work endangered them during the disaster. The company has since liftedThis is the policy.

The lawmakers raised concerns that were revealed by an OSHA investigation, which found that the company does not meet the minimum safety standards.

Amazon warehouses are an extremely dangerous place to work, according to data. According to a report of the Strategic Organizing Center Published in AprilAmazon was responsible in about half of all warehouse injury cases in 2021, even though it only employed about a third the warehouse workforce. Workers and labor advocates say that this injury rate can be partially chalked up to the company’s extremely harsh Unbending work culture, which puts speed ahead of all other things.