This morning MN Senate is preparing to pass the strongest Amazon warehouse worker protection bill in the nation. SF58 makes sure corporations cannot come into our communities and disregard the safety of workers.

Here’s why this matters for workers across the country:

We learned the hard way about the human cost of Amazon’s soaring profits and the company’s ever expanding footprint. When Amazon arrived in the state 8 years ago, it made grand public promises about delivering safe, reliable jobs with dignified wages.

Instead, Amazon imported its high tech business model and dangerous management practices that have made its warehouses one of the most unsafe places to work in Minnesota. 1 in 10 of Minnesota’s Amazon warehouse workers are injured on the job every year. Let that sink in.

These high injury rates are directly attributable to how Amazon manages workers in its warehouses, enforcing an excessively rapid pace of work. Workers push themselves to the brink, racing against a machine with quotas that treat us like robots, not humans.

The Warehouse Worker Protection Act we’re going to pass this morning can change this. Workers will now get notified of quotas in writing, in workers’ primary language––a crucial requirement for our state, where more than 86,000 Somali immigrant families live.

The bill means employers cannot fire or take disciplinary action against a worker who fails to meet a quota that wasn’t disclosed––disarming one of the primary excuses Amazon may use to punish or fire workers who seek better conditions or organize.

And this bill doesn’t just cover Amazon workplaces––it applies to all warehouses with over 250+ workers at a site or 1000+ across the state.

It cannot be overstated to what extent this worker bill, when enforced, will fundamentally change the experience of work. It will reduce injuries and create more opportunities to hold Amazon accountable for unreasonable quotas and pace of work.

This also improves conditions for workers to organize. Amazon worker organizer Khali Jama explained, “Amazon uses fear to control its workers. They use surveillance to fire and hire new workers seemingly every week, making workers constantly afraid of losing their job.”

But this bill wasn’t passed overnight. Workers have taken huge risks to raise the alarm on safety issues. Since 2017, East African workers have been organizing with the Awood Center to fight for better pay and conditions on the job at Amazon.

In 2018 MN Amazon workers organized for and won regular meetings with mgmt, access to Somali-speaking mgmt & responses to individual worker complaints. That year, workers also won time off for Eid and a prayer room onsite, complete with prayer rugs.

At every turn, Amazon has aggressively fought back. Firing workers who speak out about conditions or organize colleagues and closing a sorting center in what many feared to be retaliation for past organizing, and a warning to discourage the next.

Still, worker organizing prevailed. Amazon’s strategy of hiring working class migrants/non-Native English speakers has only emboldened our community to stand up & fight back. When Amazon arrived in the state, it targeted East African immigrants with job advertisements.

While Amazon might have sought to exploit and retaliate against workers in our communities, workers organizing with the Awood Center and beyond are challenging its ability to do so. Because as Amazon hires more and more workers, our strength in numbers becomes all the more powerful.

In this way, Amazon workers across the country have organized, fought. We’ve won victories, like the passage of this bill in MN, #AB701 in CA and #WarehouseWorkerProtectionAct in NY. And we’re just getting started.