Sawant demands Amazon pays attention to worker conditions

Dec 8, 2016, 10:07 AM

Kshama Sawant, amazon...

Kshama Sawant is urging Amazon to release a statement in support of pilots demonstrating against their work conditions. (AP)


Pilots contracted to transport Amazon purchases around the country this holiday season stayed grounded Wednesday to make a point about their working conditions.

“There’s concern, and there should be concern, that packages will not arrive on time, or maybe at all,” said Bob Kircher, a pilot with Atlas Air.

Amazon Go wants to change the way you go grocery shopping

Atlas Air is one company that contracts with Amazon to fly purchases to their destinations. The holiday season, with gifts mailed all over the country, is among the busiest times of the year for such services.

On Wednesday, about 45 pilots with Atlas staged a demonstration in front of Amazon in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, the Seattle PI reports. They argue that their company understaffs and overworks pilots. They are aiming for better pay and retirement packages.

A similar strike occurred a couple weeks ago when pilots with another Amazon contractor, ABX Air, made similar claims of understaffing. They went on strike, but were ordered back to work. Many of those pilots are still threatening to strike, leading Amazon to halt operations with that company.

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant was able to be present during Wednesday’s demonstration. But she weighed in on the matter, urging Seattle locals to support the pilots.

“Amazon is a powerful enough corporation, Jeff Bezos is a powerful enough person,” Sawant told KIRO Radio. “They can single-handedly influence decisions that will impact the lives of thousands of workers. That is why I stand with the pilots in demanding that Amazon pays attention to the worker conditions at a company they contract with.”

Sawant said that Amazon should release a statement in support of the pilots delivering their packages. She also argues that Amazon has the power to hold accountable the companies it contracts with.

“We are talking about Amazon which is the most profitable multi-national corporation in the world,” Sawant said. “It is now holiday season, and Amazon’s executives and billionaire shareholders are going to be making massive profits from the many customers buying goods. And so, I think the pilots are actually doing the right thing by demanding for their needs, in terms of a fair contract, at a time when they can probably push Amazon to listen to them.”

Amazon to Trump

Sawant went further, saying that the issue of Amazon pilots is related to other causes — going as far as to say it is part of the opposition fight in Trump’s America.

“For everyone who is correctly worried about the attacks that are going to come on workers, on labor unions, people of color, the LGBTQ community, the only way we can fight any of these attacks is if we all stand together in the 99 percent and withstand all attacks,” Sawant said. “So workers like the pilots … are willing to put themselves out there and sacrifice their own comfort to go on strike, we should connect their success with our success.”

“Obama said that Trump’s success is our success,” she said. “I don’t agree with that. I don’t think an agenda of racism and anti-worker policy should be wished success. Instead, we should tie ourselves to all the workers who are willing to fight injustice.”

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