Confessions of an Amazon employee

0

The Amazon Air Freight Fulfillment Center, also known as KSBD, opened in April 2021 in California’s Inland Empire. Workers at the 24-hour facility fly at least 14 round trips a day and are responsible for landing planes, unloading them and sorting cargo.

But a month after the union action made headlines, an employee told Modern Retail that the heat protections had gone into effect. However, staff are still waiting to hear his request for a wage increase from the starting salary of $17 to $22 an hour.

In the latest installment of our Confessions series, in which we offer anonymity in exchange for candor, Modern Retail spoke with a worker about what has changed since the walkout and the hope for a higher salary. They said they were motivated to participate in organizing their workplace because they wanted to create better conditions for themselves and their colleagues.

“I was really concerned not only about my health, but also that of my other associates,” said this worker.

In August, Southern California experienced historic heat waves, with Accuweather showing several days above 100 degrees. However, Amazon told CNBC at the time of the walkout that the highest recorded temperature at the facility was 77 degrees.

Amazon spokesperson Paul Flaningantold told Modern Retail in a written statement that the company “[hears] the opinions of our employees within our company, we also respect their right to make their opinions known outside. The statement continues: “We are proud to provide full-time employees at our San Bernardino airline hub and throughout the region with a starting minimum wage of $17 per hour. Depending on their shift, our full-time employees can earn up to $19.25 per hour and enjoy some of the best benefits in the industry, including health care from day one, 401(k) with 50% company match and up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave. While we are always listening and looking for ways to improve, we remain proud of the competitive salary, comprehensive benefits, and engaging and secure work experience we provide to our teams in the region.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

What does a typical day at the air hub look like for you during your 10 hour shift?
It varies from day to day. But most of the time I’m in what they call a critical role – it’s anyone who is allowed to drive. [ground support equipment]. I’m also a pushback operator, pushing the plane up the taxiway for them to take off. Sometimes I direct planes to the gate. Sometimes I’m on the main deck loading and unloading the plane. Sometimes I’m on the lower deck gathering the ground support equipment to the K loader, which is equipment with an elevator.

Half the shift you do one thing, then the other shift you do another.

What are some of the conditions that led you to participate in the walkout?
Better pay, a safe work environment and no retaliation. Especially with these heat waves we just had, I was really concerned about not only my health but also that of my other associates. And I know three associates who suffered from heart disease, which was not very sure. So we talked about it.

We all got together and went to see our General Manager and presented him with some OSHA heating requirements. Once it reaches a certain degree, a certain temperature, they have to give us heat breaks.

After [the walkout] they started doing heat breaks, making sure people had electrolytes. They put fans on the roller deck, that’s where we take the containers after they come off the plane. And there are workers inside who need these fans because it’s hot when they unload and put them on the treadmill.

They made changes and we held them accountable as well, because there were a few times when they went over, you know, the time required to take a break. So we held them accountable for that.

Did you hear a response about the push for a $5 an hour raise?
There was no response to that. But they say they’re going to do a salary review next month and they’re going to implement it next month, but I don’t know if that’s true.

What would it mean to you personally to get a $5 pay raise?
It will help me pay my rent, fill up the gas for the car, buy groceries. The cost of living here in the Inland Empire is very high.

When inflation and all that goes up, they have to keep up with the rising cost of living. If the cost of living goes up, they have to raise wages.

You talked about reprisals. What are you afraid is going to happen?
I’m afraid of being targeted, picking out any little thing I’ve done, like, “He can be fired for this.” Because it’s nonsense. So I’m a bit concerned for everyone involved. But if it’s going to change anything, you know what, I’m in.

If it brings change, a comfortable salary, a safe work environment — if it brings that — it’s worth it.

Share.

Comments are closed.