For the past year-and-a-half, Shakopee’s Amazon facility has become the center of a massive labor movement, mostly led by East African immigrants. They’ve been striking for better working conditions, more opportunities for advancement, even the simple right to organize.
But on Thursday, Amazon experienced a different kind of strike at its facility in Eagan. About 80 workers walked off the job for over two hours, mostly because they wanted to be able to drive to work without getting their cars towed.
“Our shift starts at 7:30 and some of us are here at 6:15 and we’re not able to get parking,” a worker named Satuna told Gizmodo. She said cars are sometimes double-parked just so workers can find space amid the delivery trucks, vans, and shuttles to offsite locations. Workers were told that their cars would be towed and they'd be fined $350 if they got in the way of the other vehicles.
For the past “three or four months,” Satuna said, they’d been struggling to get enough parking space for everyone, and attempts to bring the matter to management’s attention had been “ignored.”
Hence the strike. Video shows the workers standing in the parking lot in their bright yellow safety vests, waving signs in the air, and singing: “We are safer with each other, brothers and sisters.”
VIDEO:���� Workers singing during their 2.5 hour walkout at Eagan @amazon warehouse before winning on their demands!— AwoodCenterMPLS (@AwoodMpls) August 8, 2019
Together, two hands can make a change
Let's be together
Brothers & sisters
We are safer together with each other
Brothers & sisters
Their demands were simple. They wanted Amazon to repay the workers who’d had their cars towed, and provide more parking so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. They also asked for an offsite punch-in station so workers wouldn’t be punished if they had to park in a faraway overflow lot and catch a shuttle to work. Finally, they asked that management recognize the upcoming Eid holiday so workers could be with their families.
Gizmodo said management eventually "assented" and promised new spots would be purchased on the other side of the highway. A release from the Awood Center, a group that advocates for East African workers, said that once the workers got word their demands would be met, they returned to finish their shifts. Workers point to this as a galvanizing event.
“We know they can’t do this without us,” worker Fardowsa Nunow said in a statement. “Today is just a start, but we are proud of the progress we’ve made by standing up to management and demanding they listen.”
An Amazon spokesperson sent the following statement:
"We have been working to support the site, including providing onsite parking, offsite parking and shuttles. We’re committed to listening to our teams, and will continue to find parking solutions to support the site."