Amazon's Shakopee workers, unions stage demonstration over conditions

Amazon employee Meg Brady speaks at a rally outside the Amazon fulfillment center warehouse in Shakopee on Monday to demand better working conditions and job security. Brady has worked at Amazon since November 2017. Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

Several hundred people gathered outside Amazon's sprawling fulfillment center in Shakopee Monday to protest what they say are difficult working conditions at the online retailer.

The demonstration — which organizers called a strike — coincided with the retailer's Prime Day promotion.

Amazon employee Sahro Sharif said many workers have a tough time keeping up with the fast pace of packing and moving shipments.

"We are striking to end the retaliation that we are facing as we fight to make these jobs safe, make these jobs permanent, make these jobs one where workers have a chance to grow and be promoted. We are here because we are humans. We are not robots," Sharif said.

• Previously: Meet three Somali-American women fighting for better work conditions at Amazon

In earlier interviews with MPR News, workers described line speeds that were too fast, as workers tried to keep up with robots delivering packages to process.

In a statement, Amazon said about 15 of the center's 1,500 workers used personal time to participate in the demonstration.

"The fact is that Amazon provides a safe, quality work environment in which associates are the heart and soul of the customer experience, and today's event shows that our associates know that to be true. We encourage anyone to come take a tour anytime."

Mahammud Hirsi, a manager at Amazon, started as a part-timer three years ago. He said he was able to advance quickly, and the workload wasn't an issue.

"I was able to come in and do my work and then go to school. The schedule was very friendly."

A practicing Muslim, Hirsi said he had no trouble taking prayer breaks.

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