In the heart of America’s Supply Chain, Amazon Warehouse Workers are Demanding Higher Pay, Safe Working Conditions
San Bernardino, Calif. — Amazon warehouse workers walked off the job Monday at a warehouse in San Bernardino, the heart of the U.S. supply chain.
Inland Empire Amazon Workers United are demanding an increase in pay, safe working conditions and an end to retaliation. About 900 workers have signed a petition calling for the base pay rate to be raised to $22 an hour. Workers currently start at $17 an hour.
“Amazon could deliver a higher standard for workers, but they don’t,” said Sara Fee, who has worked at the air hub since it opened in March 2021. “A warehouse is just a warehouse. A company is just a company. The people are what makes it all work and we are strong and united to fight for what we deserve.”
In July, 24 days reached 95 degrees or hotter at the San Bernardino airport. After workers confronted managers about dangerous heat conditions, Amazon created an additional rest area to counter heat. Unsafe heat conditions remain in many work areas, and workers are demanding additional protections.
“Working in the heat feels like you are suffocating.. You need to take breaks and you can overheat really easily. They don’t make it easy to take breaks to allow your body to cool down,” said Melissa Ojeda, who has worked at the facility for more than a year.
The facility, also known as KSBD, is a critical leg in the Amazon logistics network and is the largest air facility on the West Coast and one of only three “air hubs” nationally.
Workers submitted a petition to the management of the air freight facility during Prime Week in July. In part the petition said “We as Amazon Associates work hard to ensure that the building hits the numbers it strives for and work together in order to provide satisfaction to all of our customers. The average rent in California is $1,700 and the average rent in San Bernardino is $1,650. With our current starting pay of $17/hr in a 40 hour work week, we make approximately $2,200 take home pay– meaning that over 75% of our income is going into rent alone….We can barely afford to live in today’s economy.”
“I would like this job to be long term. If workers are heard and there is a change, we can make it a good place to work,” said Daniel Rivera, an associate at the warehouse for over a year.
The facility opened in March 2021 amidst community concern and opposition around job quality and air pollution. A 2018 study found that even before this facility opened, Amazon’s flights into and out of airports in Riverside and San Bernardino counties released an estimated 620,000 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. The two counties also have the worst ozone pollution in the US, largely due to the warehousing industry.
Amazon promised quality jobs, but has failed to deliver. Since the opening, workers have organized in response to low pay, illness-inducing heat, and brutal working conditions. In addition to a new rest area, workers have also won an increase in pay for night shifts.
The warehouse is located at the former Norton Air Force Base. Amazon currently operates 14 flights a day in and out of the 24-hour facility. Amazon has said its goal is to operate 26 flights a day. The number of workers at the warehouse fluctuates, currently about 1,300 but more than 1,800 in peak season, demonstrating the lack of stability in these Amazon jobs.
The Inland Empire Amazon Workers United is supported by the Warehouse Worker Resource Center and many community-based organizations in the Inland Empire including Inland Congregations United for Change, Inland Empire Labor Council, Sierra Club San Gorgonio and the People’s Collective for Environmental Justice.
About the WWRC
The Warehouse Worker Resource Center is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), organization founded in 2011 dedicated to improving working conditions in the warehouse industry in Southern California. We focus on education, advocacy and action to change poor working conditions in the largest warehousing hub in the country.