E-commerce giant Amazon is facing a fresh challenge from employees looking to unionize as the company prepares to invest billions in its new HQ2 locations.
Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that frustrated employees at Amazon’s newly opened Staten Island, New York, fulfillment center have publicized their intent to unionize, after the company recently announced plans to build a brand new facility in the nearby borough of Queens.
The campaign is said to be focused on working condition grievances, which employees think the company should focus on improving instead of building the new HQ2 facility. Concerns reportedly include workplace safety, insufficient pay, unreasonable hourly quotas and a lack of breaks.
One worker told Bloomberg the company treats them like “robots.”
“Amazon associates are the heart and soul of our operations, and we respect employees’ right to choose to join or not join a labor union," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. "Amazon maintains an open-door policy that encourages employees to bring their comments, questions, and concerns directly to their management team for discussion and resolution."
The spokesperson added that employees are prohibited from working more than 60 hours per week and that fulfillment center workers receive incentives for "myriad activities."
The company, which is currently union-free, drew scrutiny after an anti-union training video leaked in September.
The organization Staten Island workers are said to be working with – the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union – did not immediately return a request for comment. RWDSU has also worked with employees of Amazon-owned Whole Foods regarding unionization efforts.
The e-commerce company said it will invest $2.5 billion and create 25,000 jobs in New York, expecting to generate $10 billion in tax revenue for the state over the span of 20 years. In exchange, it received incentives worth $1.525 billion.
Amazon faced harsh criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders earlier this year over worker pay. In response to a bill introduced by Sanders, the company raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour.