Bernie Sanders rallies Amazon workers in Alabama ahead of historic union vote

AOC hits back at Amazon claim that it treats workers well saying ‘defecating in bags’ is seen as a common problem

AOC says that ‘a loved one of mine worked Amazon delivery last year & left because that’s how dangerous it felt’

Maroosha Muzaffar
Wednesday 31 March 2021 08:58
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In the latest criticism of Amazon and its alleged poor working conditions, New York representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez tweeted that defecating in bags was a “common occurrence” for Amazon’s workers.

Joining other Democrats in criticising the e-commerce giant, AOC lashed out against Amazon on social media and accused the company of fostering a dangerous work culture.

In a tweet, she said: “A loved one of mine worked Amazon delivery last year & left because that’s how dangerous it felt to them working for a company that also puts so much performance pressure on their workers that defecating in bags is a common enough occurrence that there are internal memos about it.”

AOC’s comments were in response to Jay Carney — the current senior vice president at Amazon and former press secretary under the Obama administration — who had tweeted at Democrat Bernie Sanders saying “we treat our employees with dignity and respect. We offer a $15 min wage, health care from day one, and a safe, inclusive workplace”.

Mr Sanders, the Vermont senator, had said that Amazon workers in Alabama were “sick and tired of being treated like robots.” He added: “They are standing up and fighting back, and I am proud to support them.”

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AOC joins other Democrats who have been vocal against Amazon’s working conditions. Senator Elizabeth Warren had also said that they “exploit loopholes and tax havens to pay close to nothing in taxes.”

Amazon has been accused of trying to disrupt workers’ unionising efforts at one of its fulfilment centres in Alabama – including with the assistance of seemingly fake workers online. Twitter has suspended several accounts that claimed to be Amazon workers after their suspicious activity was flagged in a viral thread.

Last week Mr Sanders had also announced that he would visit the Alabama Amazon warehouse to encourage unionisation by workers. Joined by actor Danny Glover and rapper Killer Mike Render, he told the media: “If Amazon workers in Alabama can prevail in forming a union, it can be done all over this country.” The final vote could lead to the first union in the US at a massive tech company.

The months-long fight to form a union, led by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, has maintained the spotlight on issues of wages and workplace conditions across the nation.

Amazon has about 800,000 US employees.

According to a report based on Forbes data, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos saw his wealth grow by 57.6 per cent from a net worth of $113bn on 18 March 2020 to $178.1bn on 18 March 2021.

Senator Bernie Sanders has tweeted: “All I want to know is why the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, is spending millions trying to prevent workers from organizing a union so they can negotiate for better wages, benefits and working conditions.”

Amazon, addressing the criticism, responded in a series of tweets: “If you don’t like the laws you’ve created, by all means, change them. Here are the facts: Amazon has paid billions of dollars in corporate taxes over the past few years alone.”

Amazon’s CEO Dave Clark also responded to Mr Sanders tweets: “All we want to know is why the [Senator] is one of the most powerful [politicians] in VT for 30+ yrs and their min wage is STILL only $11.75. AMZN’s min wage is $15 + great health care from Day 1. The Sen should save his finger-wagging lecture until after he actually delivers in his own backyard.”

The tech giant has faced heavy criticism over its workplace conditions after documents revealed that employees were forced to pee in water bottles and didn’t have enough time to stop and use the restroom.

AOC, continuing her Twitter thread said: “Amazon workers in my district organised to meet with me in private last year. They were terrified & sobbing at being left in the dark about COVID exposures on the job + finding out about worksite infections through the grapevine.”

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