On Tuesday, June 22, 2021, Warehouse Workers for Justice (WWJ) and allies rallied at Nowell Park Recreation Center to stand in solidarity with our warehouse workers on Amazon Prime Day. Watch the video of the action on our Facebook page here.
On Prime Day, consumers take advantage of doorbuster sales and Amazon executives profit. Meanwhile, Amazon workers struggle and suffer to meet impossible demands under unsafe, inhumane working conditions to meet productivity. Will County’s workers and residents placed their Prime Day order, and the only thing in the shopping cart was justice from Amazon.
The event started with music performances, led by WWJ Organizer Nick Domberg, to charge the atmosphere and set the mood.
WWJ Executive Director Roberto Clack followed, took the mic, and led chants—highlighting the negative impacts Amazon and other warehousing companies create in local communities across the country. At the same time, Clack galvanized the audience by reminding them that workers have the power to make change by organizing.
Afterward, Rayshonda Brown, a former Amazon worker and WWJ member, shared her experience working at Amazon. Brown is a mother to multiple children and also recently had a baby last November. She worked during the busy Christmas season to make sure she could buy presents for her children.
“Amazon needs to start treating their workers like human beings instead of robots,” Brown demanded. “Without their warehouse workers, there wouldn't even be an Amazon.”
She further explained how Amazon failed to respond to the crisis occurring inside warehouses amid the pandemic—sick workers and family members, loss of jobs, loss of benefits, and even loss of housing.
“It’s time for Amazon to step up and do better,” said Brown. “It’s also time for Amazon workers to come together and demand change.”
Angela Ortiz, another former Amazon worker and WWJ member, also shared her testimony and stood in solidarity with Amazon workers. Ortiz witnessed horrific events while working.
One was witnessing a female worker carrying an unborn child for six months that led to a miscarriage, after management denied her request to transfer to a different department.
“I experienced depression and anxiety working under these brutal conditions,” explained Ortiz. “I was isolated from my peers and forced to meet [the] production rate with little to no human interaction. As a picker, numbers were prioritized over mental health. Management used me as a pawn to monitor my peers, even when they were meeting expectations”
Ortiz explained the normalization of the suffering of workers—heat flashes, asthma attacks, other physical injuries, ambulances and wheelchairs lined up at the facility on a daily basis, paramedics on call to carry workers out on stretchers, dehydration, heart attacks—and death.
“Amazon not only exploits their workers, but also our community,” Ortiz said in her closing remarks. “We deserve to be heard! We are not only metrics for the man! We need to unionize as a [means] for protection, better working conditions, and a safer, cleaner environment!
Jose Acosta, from the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, took the mic after. He explained the importance of building bridges and connections between local communities on shared issues. Acosta then shared a spoken word poem addressing Jeff Bezos (watch it here at 23:39).
Ericka Gonzalez Guzman, representing the JJC Sustainability Union, joined the other speakers in demanding justice from Amazon and explained the negative impacts pollution has in Joliet and other communities. “It’s a health crisis, and we should take it seriously,” said Guzman.
The event ended with more music and a community art piece. The collaborative art piece echoed the theme of the action, “Our Prime Day Order.” Community members added their demands (orders) from Amazon on a large poster with an illustration of a shopping cart on it.
This action reflects WWJ’s commitment to organize warehouse workers and community members to fight for better jobs, for a better environment, and for a better future—for all. Together we will envision our community with good jobs, clean air, and the opportunities we deserve.
To get updates on events like these and more, join our mailing list and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.