Thursday Night Shakopee Amazon Workers Walked Out

35 Workers at the MSP1 fulfillment center walked off the job late Thursday night after Farhiyo Warsame was fired at the facility. Management claimed Warasame violated their “time off task” rules. Warsame had previously raised concerns about a lack of adequate safety protections.

Photos and videos of the walkout can be found here.

Workers at MSP1 and around the country have voiced growing fears that Amazon is using its “time off task” policies to target and retaliate against workers for raising safety concerns. Amazon uses “time off task” to enforce productivity rates.

The corporation issues warnings if workers take “too much” time away from tasks like packing and scanning boxes – for example, to wash their hands or sanitize their workstation during the pandemic. Prior reporting has found that Amazon often fires workers after several warnings, though the corporation’s attorneys told a judge in New York that such enforcement had been suspended in light of public health concerns associated with COVID-19.

Another worker at the MSP1 facility, Hibaq Mohamed, began receiving a series of time off task violations early in the summer, including taking breaks for safety precautions such as washing her hands. The warnings followed years of organizing her co-workers to win better working conditions at the facility. After she received a final warning that put her on the brink of losing her job, her story received national attention, with lawmakers including Rep. Ilhan Omar supporting her right to speak up. 

Amazon’s relentless quest to speed up productivity – or, in Amazon lingo, “rate” – has also tracked with rising injury rates, as reported in a comprehensive Reveal News investigation this week.

The report showed that injury rates spike during Prime Day and Cyber Monday, when Amazon’s productivity demands are highest.

The walkout is at least the eighth led by Amazon workers since the start of the pandemic in March, and the second led by workers at MSP1.

In late April, more than 50 workers at the facility walked off the job after the firing of multiple workers and the disclosure of multiple positive cases. 

Workers at the MSP1 facility have raised concerns about Amazon’s handling of the pandemic since March. In mid-April, workers filed a complaint with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration demanding that Amazon close the facility after reports that a worker at the facility had been told by a doctor that they had COVID-19. Shortly after, Amazon fired two workers who had been outspoken about the risks workers in the facility faced. One of the workers, Bashir Mohamed, had been expressing concerns about the seeming impossibility of socially distancing in the facility. 

Yesterday Amazon released data  showing that 19,816 employees have tested positive or been presumed positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Even before the COVID-19 epidemic hit, the MSP1 facility had been a hotspot for Amazon worker organizing. In 2018, workers at the facility, which opened in 2016 and has more than 1,000 employees, became the first to force Amazon to improve working conditions in response to their concerns. Workers have also led multiple strikes around working conditions at the facility, around a variety of issues including unrealistic productivity rates, especially during Ramadan when many workers are fasting, and lack of communication in multiple languages. 

Filiberto Nolasco Gomez is a former union organizer and former editor of Minneapolis based Workday Minnesota, the first online labor news publication in the state. Filiberto focused on longform and investigative journalism. He has covered topics including prison labor, labor trafficking, and union fights in the Twin Cities.

18 thoughts on “Thursday Night Shakopee Amazon Workers Walked Out

  1. I for one celebrate the courage of the hourly workers drawing attention to amazons lack of focus on covid guidelines. They claim to care but also force management into positions where they have to ignore the rules. Amazon only cares about profit and numbers not about safety speaking from a former level 6

  2. i guess the grunts at bezos’s sweat
    shop are getting fed up, hey jeff
    time to clean up your act, before
    the feds do it for you, all that kick
    back money isn’t going to help you

    • Bazos richest guy in the world. Roof the backs of hard working under paid humans. May he burn in HELL!! For his greedy soul ..

    • As a “grunt in the sweat shop” I can tell you the people behind this walkout are in it for their own gain. I am not talking about the employees but the people telling them how “bad” they have it. The employees are being duped by a group that just wants to grab a piece of the employees paycheck would be my guess.
      Amazon has been a great employer! I love my job there. I am compensated very well for the work I perform. It is unskilled labor. It is fast paced, but not difficult. What makes it difficult is when coworkers wander away from their stations and leave you hanging. They can be seen chatting with friends, texting, talking on their phones. If one team member is goofing off, it throws the whole group off. It takes a lot to even get a reprimand.
      The upside: Generous pay. Paid time off. 401k 50% match. Several surprise cash bonuses for all! Amazon has a $110 credit towards comfortable work shoes. If someone wants to further their education I believe I have seen signs about tuition reimbursement!
      This job saved my bacon when the state shut down so many businesses, it has been a lifesaver and I am so grateful to have gotten it.
      The downside: I don’t see one.
      Here is the thing, the people complaining don’t know how good they have it. No one is forcing them to work there. If they are so overworked and underpaid they should be able to find something better in no time…

  3. I worked there and yes their productivity expectation and working condition are horrible…but the people that are complaining about not being given proper time to wash their hands are just using that to get away from their station one of the reasons I stopped working there was the uncleanliness of almost all of these people that are same nationality as the ones making the complaint ….they go to bathroom and walk right out without washing their hands they blow their nose into their clothes they are the nastiest smelliest unclean people I have ever seen.

  4. My girlfriend works at this facility in Shakopee. The entire first floor walked out. What this story fails to say is: if you did NOT walk out with your coworkers, they would immediately pressure and intimidate. If the journalist had taken time to interview a few non-Somali workers this would have come out. The entire second floor stayed inside and continued working.
    The time on task rules are staggeringly generous. Some Amazon employees can regularly be seen standing around playing on their phones. In fact Amazon broke previous longstanding precedent by allowing workers to have phones in the production area.
    An employee would have to literally abandon their work for long periods multiple times per day to get a warning.
    Somalis make a proportionately large part of the Shakopee site workforce. They work together to leverage the race card and make demands. They want badly to organize a union and are being supported by union leadership to organize the facility. The union stands to profit handsomely and the Somalis are “useful idiots” to that end.

    • Well said! Honestly, what reporter want’s to tell the truth and do some real digging these days. This is just another way to try and leverage what the unions have been attempting to do. The walkout that was mentioned in April had a true count of 11 people. Yet they said 50 associates walked out. I guess my math is WAY off. If these news folks want to get the true story they need to stop asking the people that are getting terminated for bad behavior.

  5. It’s entertaining as you see these articles that only take one side of the story. When you read this story I would hope most people have common sense to understand how Time off Task and Safety do not correlate. I work at that facility currently. It comes to me and several others as no surprise such actions have been taken. Folks state that they are “washing their hands” but you see them regularly sitting at this work station talking on the phone or with a friend. The two in particular mentioned in this article did exactly that. So no, Amazon isn’t targeting people bringing up concerns. It is an automated system the checks to see if an associate has not been working for X minutes. If X minutes pass they flag for Time of Task. So unless you are telling me the system became smart enough to tap into several other systems that are currently not linked, then this article is providing false information. Get your facts right and stop trying to make the story worse than what it truly is for views.

  6. Well, it appears many are Muslim. Are they given the many times off if during the time they are to pray to MECCA?
    If they get that too…. I can’t believe that Soros who is a liberal and left, and supports the Socialist agenda would be getting upset at these people who say they are just sanitizing. On the other hand. If it is their work station, they are the only one working at that station that shift, it should only need sanitizing when coming on and off. Are they given a box of gloves?
    I think there is more to this than is written here. If they have had many warnings, there has to be more than is being told.
    We are hearing only one side and one opinion.

  7. It’s a disgrace and disgusting to see Amazon keep retaliating agains workers who speak out and rise their concerns . I had been in their shoes while ago and I understand what these workers going through

  8. I think all companies should be made to observe safety regulations. But if you want to live and work in this country, you need to learn our language and live by our laws. No exceptions. Otherwise, go back where you came from, as you have shown you do not deserve this country.

  9. The company owner is interested in one thing. His own capital gain and profit. Not the concern of employees whom make that COMPANY go. The owner is an Asshole! And thats saying it nicely.

  10. Send the Somali’s back to the piece o land they call their country. The have low IQ, are literally here for this countries demise with their Mohammedian bs. They do not belong in our culture.

  11. Why must Americans always change for people they come to this country do your job if you don’t like it go somewhere else and why is Omar getting involved what’s something that has nothing to do with her she’s one of the biggest Liars in the state of Minnesota I hate even say I live in Minnesota because of her

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