To ‘Make Amazon Pay’, St. Peters Fulfillment Center Workers Will Strike | St. Louis Metro News | St Louis

click to enlarge Union organizer J. Lopez speaks on a curb with a crowd of people behind him.  They contain characters such as "STL8 Organizing Committee," "Work more safely" and "Higher wages."

MIKE FITZGERALD

Union organizer J. Lopez speaks during the STL8 strike in late September.

Every hour Jennifer Crane has to meet a quota. As an outbound packer at the STL8 Amazon Fulfillment Center in St. Peters, she must build, pack and label 70 cases per hour. It amounts to 3,000 packed boxes per week.

This is what Crane, 52, does every day, four days a week, 10 hours a day.

If not, it will be written down.

“So, yeah,” she says, pausing, “it’s a struggle.”

Crane says she leaves her job sore and exhausted – and without much pay. The starting wage is € 16.50 per hour. Crane, who worked at Amazon for a year and a half, is a single mother of seven children.

Two of her children also work at Amazon, but they don’t earn enough to live on their own. The family barely earns enough to live together.

“It takes everything for the three of us to be able to afford the house we live in,” says Crane.

That’s why Crane isn’t standing in front of a conveyor belt packing bags on Black Friday, the biggest American shopping day of the year. Crane will strike, along with colleagues from the STL8 Amazon Fulfillment Center – the 900,000-square-foot facility that employs more than 3,000 workers.

Some employees plan to leave the house at 2 p.m. on Friday and do not return to work until Saturday morning.

The one-day strike is part of the global ‘Make Amazon Pay’ campaign, in which Amazon employees will walk out in protest of working conditions. The goal is to bring more public attention to Amazon’s problems.

“We deserve better because Amazon is a [billion dollar] profitable company and they can do better for their employees in terms of salary and everything,” said Crane, who is also a member of the STL8 organizing committee. “They can make that place a lot better. They want to be the best employer in the world, but they’re not there yet.’

Workers say they hope to earn a $10 raise. But they also hope for better working conditions. They are constantly monitored and written up for minor infractions such as not meeting the 70 pack hourly rate. Crane says the “repetitive work” leads to “constant injuries”.

“[We want] less stress on the body,” says Crane. “…The pace at which they want us to work is not meant for the normal body.”

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment at time of publication.

If workers go on strike on Friday, it will be the second strike this year at the St. Peters Amazon. In September, nearly 30 employees left work and held a press conference outside the facility. About 350 staff members also signed a petition in support of higher wages and better worker safety. Crane says he hasn’t heard from Amazon since.

Amazon employees deliberately planned the strike during the holiday season, the busiest time of the year. Employees have to work overtime and cannot take vacation during this time.

“We just want the public to realize,” says Crane, “that there is a cost associated with their two-day delivery.”

Crane doesn’t know what comes after Friday. But she did not rule out another attack if their requests are not met.

“We feel [one day is] just enough to get their attention now,” she says, “and we can always escalate to a bigger and longer strike later if we need to.”

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