Bessemer employees demand “Amazon” payment on Black Friday

Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. More than 80 unions and allies in 32 countries used the day to draw attention to what some are calling poor working conditions at Amazonian facilities around the world — including in central Alabama. Our Revolution, a national grassroots organization, urged the community to stand with employees and not buy items from the retail giant. Amazon employees said they were overworked, underpaid and underappreciated by the company. Some even drove from Atlanta to Alabama to support the Make Amazon Pay campaign. Jennifer Hamm started working at Bessemer Amazon two years ago. “Everything was brand new,” Hamm said. “It was exciting. Basically you didn’t know much about anything. The past year has been when things have kind of been an eye opener for me.”Hamm lost her mother in August. She said she only has three days to mourn her death. She doesn’t think that’s fair. “For a parent and a company like this … I deserve more than three days to mourn my mother,” Hamm said. So she and dozens of Amazon employees and community partners went on picket lines Friday. They fight for better working conditions and accountability from the retail giant. “We sit back a lot and look at the commercial coming across the screen from Amazon and smile across the building,” said Mike Foster, principal organizer of RWDSU. Those smiles aren’t on the faces of those workers, the only smile you see is on that building.” Standing with Amazon workers, Foster is calling for change to do everything possible to protect his employees — most recently when in Birmingham on Sunday a delivery driver was ambushed by car,” Eric Hall, Our Revolution Birmingham Chapter Co-Chairman, said. Our Revolution said Amazon employees are going through one of the toughest and longest shopping seasons, especially after the online retailer announced it would lay off 10,000 employees earlier this month. During the holiday season, employees say they work between 60 and 65 hours a week to meet staffing needs. Hamm protests to improve working conditions for everyone, but also to keep her mother’s memory alive. “We all have a voice,” Hamm said. “Enough is enough.” WVTM has contacted Amazon for comment but has not heard from the company. Organizers of Friday’s protest are urging the formation of a union at the Bessemer site to ensure workers’ protection. There could soon be a vote on this. Most believe the vote is likely to happen.

Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. More than 80 unions and allies in 32 countries used the day to draw attention to what some are calling poor working conditions at Amazonian facilities around the world — including in central Alabama. Our Revolution, a grassroots national organization, urged the community to stand with employees and not buy items from the retail giant.

Amazon employees said they were overworked, underpaid and underappreciated by the company. Some even drove from Atlanta to Alabama to support the Make Amazon Pay campaign.

Jennifer Hamm started working at the Bessemer Amazon plant two years ago.

“Everything was brand new,” Hamm said. “It was exciting. Basically, you didn’t know much about anything.

Hamm lost her mother in August. She said she only has three days to mourn her death. She doesn’t think that’s fair.

“For a parent and a company like this … I deserve more than three days to mourn my mother,” Hamm said.

So she and dozens of Amazon employees and community partners went on picket lines Friday. They fight for better working conditions and accountability from the retail giant.

“We sit back a lot and watch the commercial that comes on the screen from Amazon and smile from across the building,” said Mike Foster, principal organizer of RWDSU. “Those smiles are not on the faces of these workers. The only smile you see is on this building.”

Foster stands with Amazon employees and calls for change.

Employees claim not to have received a raise since May 2021. They are also frustrated that Amazon is doing nothing to protect its employees – most recently when a delivery driver was mugged in Birmingham on Sunday.

“These workers – whether they work the plant, the facility or drive the trucks, they deserve to be protected,” said Eric Hall, co-chair of Our Revolution Birmingham Chapter.

Our Revolution said Amazon employees are going through one of the toughest and longest shopping seasons, especially after the online retailer announced it would lay off 10,000 employees earlier this month. During the holiday season, employees say they work between 60 and 65 hours a week to meet staffing needs.

Hamm is committed to improving working conditions for everyone, but also to keeping the memory of her mother alive.

“We all have a voice,” Hamm said. “Enough is enough.”

WVTM has reached out to Amazon for comment but has not heard back from the company. Organizers of Friday’s protest are urging the formation of a union at the Bessemer site to ensure workers’ protection. There could soon be a vote on this. Most believe the vote is likely to happen.

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