Workers rally in Seattle against Amazon

Action supports 1-day warning in Germany



SEATTLE — On the same day more than 1,000 workers in Germany walked off the job in a labor dispute, a few dozen people rallied in solidarity Monday outside the online retailer’s Seattle headquarters.

The German union Ver.di said Monday that workers staged one-day warning strikes at Amazon logistics centers in Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld and Graben. Inc. has about 9,000 full-time employees in Germany and hires about 14,000 seasonal workers, the company said.

Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako said the majority of the workers did not strike.

“We feel it is best to work directly with our employees, not through an intermediary. In Germany, there are established works councils … associates elected by their peers, in eight of our fulfillment centers. We interact with the works councils regularly to create the best working environment possible for our associates,” she said.

The union says Amazon workers receive lower wages than others in retail and mail-order jobs. They also say other retailers pay overtime, but Amazon does not.

“What Amazon is doing is taking this American race-to-the-bottom roadshow to Germany and trying it out on our German brothers and sisters. They’ve come all the way from Germany to come to this corporate headquarters to say they’re not going to put up with it,” said David Freiboth, executive secretary of the King County Labor Council.

For its part, Amazon said its distribution warehouses in Germany are logistics centers and employees are already paid on the upper end of what workers in that industry earn. Their wage packages also include stock grants and bonuses.

The union says that by classifying its centers as “logistics” centers, Amazon can pay lower wages.