SEATTLE (Dec. 12, 2013) — In America, Amazon.com’s anti-union bias has thwarted attempts by its warehouse workers to have a voice in their workplace. But that same anti-worker attitude is not playing so well with the online retail giant’s German employees who, since May of this year, have staged a number of rolling strikes over wages, working conditions and the mega-corporation’s refusal to negotiate with the German union ver.di, which represents hundreds of thousands of warehouse workers in Germany.
And so, the German workers are bringing their fight to America.
On Monday, Dec. 16 at 10 a.m. in Seattle, all union members and community supporters are urged to join in solidarity with ver.di members outside Amazon’s worldwide headquarters, 450 Terry Ave. North, to put the company on notice that this fight is just beginning. Bring your union signs and colors to show your support!
Germany’s Amazon employees are outraged that the company refuses to hold formal negotiations with ver.di, and have conducted several one-day strikes. The union wants to address the company’s practice of constant monitoring of workers and the unreasonable metrics that workers find impossible to meet. Wages are another problem. In Germany, wage classifications are set according to industry standards. Amazon is refusing to pay the same rate set for other German warehouse or retail workers and instead classify these positions as “logistics workers” because the pay is much lower.
Says Frank Bsirske, chairman of ver.di:
Based on the philosophy of Amazon, “work hard, have fun, make history” — one has to emphasize: it’s the employees of Amazon in Germany, who are now making history by taking to the streets for their demands. What is characterizing the corporate culture of Amazon will not be left into the hands of managers — the employees are now taking the initiative. These people are performing successful and reliable services day by day. With great justice, they call their employer for appreciativeness, respect and a clear commitment to the collective agreement of the retail and mail order business.
The act of solidarity of American unions for the strikes in Germany is a powerful sign that cooperation among workers is not bounded by national borders and continents. These protests are an encouraging response to the questionable methods of a global company like Amazon.
The German workers from ver.di will be joined at Monday’s protest in Seattle, co-sponsored by the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) and the M.L. King County Labor Council in Seattle, by a number of American labor organizations and community allies including the Communications Workers of America, Teamsters, UFCW, SEIU, Working Washington and more.
For more information about Monday’s event, contact WSLC Communications Director Kathy Cummings at 206-604-3698 or Marcus Courtney, AFL-CIO Senior Field Representative for the NW Region, at 206-225-4386.