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Unconscionable working conditions': Sanders and Warren support Amazon Prime Day strike

A worker handles a package at the Amazon fulfillment center in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

A pair of Democratic presidential candidates, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, voiced their support for Amazon (AMZN) warehouse workers expected to go on strike on Monday, the kickoff of the company’s annual sale known as Prime Day.

“I fully support Amazon workers' Prime Day strike,” Warren

. “Their fight for safe and reliable jobs is another reminder that we must come together to hold big corporations accountable.”

Later on Monday, Sanders echoed the sentiment.

“I stand in solidarity with the courageous Amazon workers engaging in a work stoppage against unconscionable working conditions in their warehouses,” he

.

“It is not too much to ask that a company owned by the wealthiest person in the world treat its workers with dignity and respect,” he continued, referring to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has an estimated net worth of $120 billion.

In recent months, Warren and Sanders have criticized the company for a leaked internal anti-union video and called for the breakup of big tech companies, including Amazon.

Organizers say more than 100 workers will go on strike at a warehouse in Shakopee, Minnesota, over a six-hour period on Monday, Bloomberg reported. The workers are demanding a reduction in their hourly production quota as well as the hiring of temporary workers as full-time staff. Several Amazon engineers are expected to fly to Minnesota and join the workers in a show of solidarity.

"The fact is Amazon offers already what this outside organization is asking for," the company told Bloomberg. The company employs hundreds of thousands of workers nationwide.

The largely East African immigrant Muslim workforce at warehouses in the Twin Cities region has become a flashpoint of worker actvism for the company.

Last March, workers at the facility in Shakopee held a three-hour strike that prompted negotiations with Amazon officials. The company later agreed to lighten the workload for the workers over the holy month of Ramadan and designate a conference room as a prayer space, organizers said.

I fully support Amazon workers' Prime Day strike. Their fight for safe and reliable jobs is another reminder that we must come together to hold big corporations accountable. https://t.co/ZkDDt9zeHv

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren)

‘Workers’ rights do not stop at the minimum wage’

The Prime Day strike was organized by the Awood Center, a community advocacy group with backing from the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union, one of the largest unions in the U.S. with over one million members.

Warren has made the breakup of companies like Facebook, Google (GOOG, GOOGL), and Amazon a key part of her campaign platform.

Last October, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sent a letter criticizing Amazon after the leak of an anti-union video reportedly produced by the company and sent to managers at the Whole Foods grocery chain. The letter came soon after Amazon raised its wage floor to $15 an hour, a move widely praised by Democratic lawmakers.

“It is important to recognize that workers’ rights do not stop at the minimum wage, and raising the pay of your lowest-paid workers, while important, does not give you a free pass to engage in potentially illegal anti-union behavior,” the letter said.

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