FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jane Chung, 201-686-5901, firstname.lastname@example.org
In response to results of the Amazon’s Annual General Meeting that took place on May 25, 2022, Maurice BP-Weeks Executive Director of Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE) and founding member of the Athena Coalition, provided the following statement:
“A record-breaking four Amazon warehouse workers presented shareholder proposals during Amazon’s Annual General Meeting, citing their experiences with Amazon’s grueling working conditions, invasive surveillance, exacting productivity quotas, and aggressive, illegal union-busting.
“We hope today’s annual meeting, and the four workers’ presentations in particular, sends a clear message to Amazon’s new CEO Andy Jassy and the Amazon board of directors: We will hold Amazon accountable until its leaders deliver for workers, small business, and shareholders to ensure we are benefiting, not suffering, from the growth of its business.
“Leading up to this moment, workers, organizers, and elected officials have written letters, filed shareholder proposals, signed petitions, organized their communities and staged protests––a testament to the incredible growth in our movement to push Amazon toward accountability. Andy Jassy must turn Amazon around and consider the corporation’s impact on workers, our communities, and our planet. If he fails to do so, Andy Jassy should mark our words: Our fight is just beginning, and will only grow from here.”
Daniel Olayiwola, an Amazon fulfillment center worker in Texas, and the first Amazon warehouse worker to present his own resolution during an Amazon annual meeting, stated:
“For the past four years, I’ve worked at Amazon warehouses, where every day is brutal. The exploitative and dangerous standards enforced by Amazon’s corporate executives not only put us all at high risk of injury, they make something as simple as using the bathroom an anxiety-inducing decision between relieving yourself and losing your job. I have co-workers sleeping in their cars because they can’t afford housing. It’s disgraceful that this is happening at one of the world’s largest and wealthiest corporations.
“Working people in this country have reached a breaking point. The boards of the country’s largest employers should be prepared to face their long record of worker abuses this shareholder season and make meaningful changes if they want their corporations to continue succeeding.”
WHAT HAPPENED DURING THIS MEETING: Shareholders introduced 14 proposals covering issues from worker safety, to surveillance tech, to lobbying disclosures. Four Amazon warehouse workers spoke during the meeting, including:
- Jennifer Bates, a worker from Bessemer, Alabama, who introduced a proposal calling on Amazon to include an hourly associate on the company board,
- Angelica Maldonado, an Amazon Labor Union organizer from Staten Island who introduced Item 13, calling for additional reporting on Amazon workers’ right to organize
- Isaiah Thomas, who introduced Item 16, calling for an independent audit on warehouse working conditions, and
- Daniel Olayiwola, who introduced a floor resolution calling for Amazon to end its use of productivity quotas and workplace surveillance. His full remarks are included at the bottom of this release.
Following the introduction of shareholder proposals, Amazon announced that no shareholder resolution had received majority support. The company also announced that all board members had received majority support and would be reelected. Amazon will release final and full voting results following the meeting.
ADDITIONAL CONTEXT: During Amazon’s annual meeting this morning, Daniel Olayiwola, an Amazon fulfillment center worker in Texas, presented the first resolution ever from an Amazon warehouse worker requesting “the company end the use of productivity quotas and worker surveillance across its warehouse facilities and distribution network, including, but not limited to the policies commonly known as Rate and Time off Task.”
Additionally, shareholders voted on a number of proposals about growing investor concern about the direction of the company and its impact on workers, communities, and the planet:
- The re-election of two members of the Board of Directors who shareholders believe have failed to adequately oversee Amazon’s employment practices and workplace safety programs: Daniel Huttenlocher and Judith McGrath.
- Proposals to investigate warehouse working conditions, freedom of association and worker retaliation, and racial and gender disparities at Amazon (items 9, 13, 16, 17).
- A proposal for a due diligence report on whether Amazon customers’ use of its products and services with surveillance, computer vision, or cloud storage capabilities contributes to human rights violations (including the Israeli apartheid regime).
Daniel’s presentation represents growing support for Amazon shareholders to deliver accountability. In past weeks, the Athena Coalition and partners have been organizing protest, petitions, and events to raise awareness about the stakes of Amazon’s annual meeting:
- On May 3, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, and the Office of Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs launched a “vote no” campaign to unseat two Amazon board members, specifically citing their failure in duty to address the ongoing worker safety crisis in Amazon warehouses. They were joined by leaders of Amazon Labor Union and state treasurers from Massachusetts, Delaware, and Maine for the announcement.
- On May 4, the Athena Coalition and Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility hosted a roundtable for Amazon shareholders about what is at stake during Amazon CEO Andy Jassy’s first annual general meeting of shareholders. Featured during the call were Daniel Olayiwola, the first Amazon warehouse worker to present a resolution during an Amazon annual meeting; an anonymous Amazon tech worker testifying against Amazon’s support of the Israeli apartheid regime; and New York City Comptroller Brad Lander. You can watch a recording of the roundtable HERE.
- On May 11, leading independent proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis recommended that Amazon shareholders vote against the reappointment of Director Judith McGrath, citing the same concerns raised by Comptroller Lander and other shareholders a week earlier. Over the next two weeks, both Glass Lewis and the other leading proxy advisor Institutional Shareholder Services recommended that shareholders vote down the proposed pay package for CEO Andy Jassy.
- On May 12, the Athena Coalition mailed Amazon Board members and shareholders a report titled, “Monitored: How Amazon Undermines the Safety of Workers and Our Communities”. The report details how Amazon workers have been raising the alarm about unsafe working conditions in Amazon warehouses, where the rates of injury, turnover, and reports of retaliation greatly exceed industry rates, year after year. Accompanying the report was a letter signed by 30 worker, small business, tech accountability, anti monopoly, racial justice, and anti-surveillance groups, urging shareholders to help deliver accountability to Amazon during this AGM.
- On that same day, the Athena Coalition staged a protest in front of Vanguard Group Headquarters in Malvern, PA, blocking the entrance to the building with boxes stating, VANGUARD: It’s time to deliver accountability at AMAZON. The protesters urged Vanguard to call on the firm to help deliver accountability at Amazon during this annual meeting. Vanguard is Amazon’s largest shareholder.
- On May 17, Human Impact Partners, a national public health organization, sent a letter to Amazon board members and shareholders highlighting the shareholder resolutions related to workplace health and safety.
- On May 19, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) released a report that found that as Amazon has doubled the number of its New York Facilities, injury rates have jumped 65% from 2020 to 2021.
- Also on May 19, The New Jersey Legislature held a Special Assembly Hearing on Amazon injury rates in the state. Amazon is the largest private employer in NJ, and more than 57% of all serious injuries in NJ warehouses are reported from Amazon facilities.
- Yesterday, May 24, the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability released a report about how Amazon avoids paying taxes while taking in hundreds of millions of tax dollars via public contracts. This report highlights the need for tax transparency, which is a proposal being voted on during the AGM tomorrow.
In the coming days, workers and activists are continuing the momentum and organizing the following events:
- On May 25, Amazon workers in Hazelwood, Missouri will march to STL5, an Amazon fulfillment center, to demand a permanent $3/hour raise and regular emergency preparedness drills and additional storm shelters in response to the tornado that destroyed DLI4 in Edwardsville on December 10, taking the lives of six workers.
- On May 26, Newark and Elizabeth residents will gather at the Port Authority’s monthly meeting in Manhattan to tell the Port Authority not to sign any secret deal to build an Amazon air hub at Newark Airport. The Good Jobs Clean Air NJ coalition is pushing back against Amazon’s unsafe jobs and more pollution in already overburdened communities. The coalition has so far staved off the deal, which was originally to be signed in November 2021.
FULL TEXT OF DANIEL OLAYIWOLA’S REMARKS:
Hello fellow shareholders,
My name is Daniel Olayiwola and I have been an Amazon employee for four years. I am speaking today to introduce a resolution that seeks to end Amazon’s injury crisis. Every day, Amazon workers, like me, are injured on the job. Whether you’re a driver, a picker, a stower, when you work for Amazon you put your health and safety on the line every single shift.
OSHA records have shown that Amazon’s workplace injury rates are well above national averages. And these injuries have been linked to Amazon’s productivity quotas and surveillance practices. Whether called Rate and Time Off Task or going by another name, Amazon’s policies push workers to their limits by setting the pace of work and monitoring their movements.
As a result: people are getting hurt. I have personally felt the physical toll of working for Amazon. I have seen my coworkers work themselves to exhaustion. I know the stories of workers getting injured, contracting COVID-19, or even dying while working at Amazon. And I’m not the only one taking notice.
The injury crisis at Amazon has even drawn the attention of legislators, regulators, shareholders, and the public. Amazon itself acknowledged the problem when Jeff Bezos committed the company to being the “Earth’s Safest Place to Work.”
Despite this, the injury rate at Amazon actually went up last year.
I’m speaking up because something has to change. Amazon owes its success to its employees, but the company’s directors and management have failed to protect them. That’s why I’m introducing my resolution, because without workers, the Amazon collapses.
Therefore, be it Resolved: Shareholders of Amazon.com request that the company end the use of productivity quotas and worker surveillance across its warehouse facilities and distribution network, including, but not limited to the policies commonly known as Rate and Time off Task. These policies are to be ended for all Amazon employees, including drivers for Delivery Service Partners and other third-party contractor employees by August 31, 2022. Thank you.
The Athena coalition is made up of 50+ organizations working together to break the dangerous stranglehold of Amazon over our democracy, economy, and planet.