On December 14, workers at the Amazon facility in Shakopee, Minnesota walked out of their workplace after months of struggle over the working conditions faced by the employees.
The community, primarily of East African descent, protested against being forced to work at an inhuman pace, not having a place to do daily prayer, and against their bosses not representing or understanding the unique struggles that they face on a daily basis.
The community showed up in solidarity with the workers who went on strike, and speeches came from CAIR director Jaylani Hussein and plant worker Khadra Kassim. Other members of the community came together to express their outrage at the company, and to present their demands for better working conditions to Amazon.
A plant worker described how in Chicago, despite the fact that she was the only Somali and the only Muslim at the facility, she had a place to pray at work. At the Shakopee facility, however, the workforce is 95 percent Muslim, but the facility has no such amenity for workers there. The workers promised that until Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest man alive, heard and met their demands, that they would continue their struggle.
Among these demands are safer working conditions. Kassim was working while pregnant, and sustained an injury which caused bleeding. The onsite health office told her there was nothing they could or would do in the face of such a potentially serious condition. She left work in the face of this injury, and thankfully delivered a healthy girl, but it is both ridiculous and obscene that a pregnant woman was not given adequately safe working conditions and adequate medical attention in the face of a workplace injury.
Imam Ahmed Anshur spoke about why the Muslim community showed solidarity with the workers of the plant saying, “We have showed up because many Amazon workers live in unaffordable housing, with failing public schools, and many cannot afford to take care of their families. When workers leave Amazon they leave with back pain and injury. They come to us for support, and they still have to buy groceries and get medical care. We will not stand by while Amazon does this to our community… The only moral and ethical choice is for Amazon to fully fund the community fund that we’ve been in negotiations about.”
After the speeches made by the community and leaders, there was a brief march to the main entrance of Amazon, with workers chanting “Hey Jeff
Bezos, our backs are tired and our funds are low.” Later, as they left, they chanted “We will be back”.