Amazon.com warehouse workers in Minnesota plan to strike during the online retailer’s summer sales extravaganza, a sign that labor unrest persists even after the company committed to paying all employees at least $15 an hour last year. Workers at a Shakopee, Minnesota, fulfillment center plan a six-hour work stoppage on July 15, the first day of Prime Day. Amazon started the event five years ago, using deep discounts on products to attract and retain Prime members, who pay annual subscription fees in exchange for free shipping and other perks. While the planned strike will affect just one of Amazon’s more than 100 U.S. warehouses, which typically employ a couple of thousand people, the unrest coincides with increasing political pressure on the company and could embolden workers elsewhere.
Total Retail's Take: While this strike will likely have little to no impact on Amazon's Prime Day operations, it does signify growing employee discontent with low wages and high productivity quotas. Amazon has been criticized in the past for its treatment of warehouse workers, and believes it has taken steps to improve in that area. The online retail giant has increased its minimum wage to $15 and frozen its productivity metrics. But is that enough? A key differentiator for Amazon is its nationwide logistics network that helps gets products to customers quicker and more cost effectively than other online retailers. In order for that logistic network to run at peak efficiency, Amazon needs satisfied workers that are producing at a high level. How Amazon handles this strike in Minnesota figures to be closely monitored by other warehouse workers within the organization. So while this strike may not be an issue, a bigger problem may be brewing.