Updated below with Amazon’s statement.
Representatives of Amazon’s warehouse workers in Germany will stage a protest outside the company’s Seattle headquarters this morning, bringing more visibility to what they describe as a fight against unfair working conditions and wage inequality.
The protest is expected to coincide with further wildcat strikes at Amazon facilities in Germany. The actions are being organzed by the German labor union Ver.di. American unions including the AFL-CIO, United Food and Commercial Workers, Teamsters and Communications Workers of America are planning to support the German union in the Seattle protest.
The union contends, among other things, that workers in Amazon’s distribution centers should be treated as retail employees, not lower-wage logistics workers.
The action comes at a critical time of year for Amazon, as the company approaches the peak of the holiday season and tries to keep its warehouses running smoothly. A Ver.di spokesperson tells the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. action is “symbolic” and not a strike.
Update, 8 a.m.: Here is Amazon’s statement, in full:
The vast majority of our workers in Germany are not participating in these strike activities. We feel it is best to work directly with our employees, not through an intermediary. In Germany, there are established works councils, comprised of 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.
We do not track employees. Like most companies, we have performance expectations. Productivity targets are set objectively, based on previous performance levels achieved by our workforce.
We actually pay more in total compensation than the “logistics” tariff that governs warehouse workers in Germany. Median pay after one year in our logistics centers is 5 percent higher than the logistics tariff in the respective regions. After two years and the first vesting of their stock associates on average earn 12 percent more compared to the logistics tariff. This includes a bonus and stock grants which over the past five years have added an average of eight percent to base pay annually.