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Amazon workers stage brief walkouts at two Chicago-area sites

The workers in Cicero and Chicago’s Gage Park neighborhood said the company has not responded to complaints about wages and working conditions.

Workers participate in an early-morning walkout Wednesday in Cicero.
Workers participate in an early-morning walkout Wednesday in Cicero.
Amazonians United Chicagoland via Facebook

A few dozen Amazon workers briefly walked off their jobs at two Chicago-area locations Wednesday in what organizers billed as the first multi-site job action affecting the online retailer.

The employees, calling themselves Amazonians United Chicagoland, left their posts during shifts that began early in the morning to dramatize grievances about wages and working conditions. They had submitted petitions to management demanding changes but said they had received no response.

The walkouts and rallies occurred at delivery stations at 1500 S. Laramie Ave. in Cicero and at 3507 W. 51st St. in Chicago’s Gage Park neighborhood. Ted Miin, an Amazon worker involved in the job action, said the workers then went home mid-shift.

Miin, who works at the Gage Park location, said some deliveries of last-minute Christmas presents may be delayed. He said another walkout might occur Thursday.

“When we walked off our jobs in April, we know from our friends on the Southwest Side that some packages were delayed one or two days, so we think that will happen again,” he said.

Miin said the delay is unfortunate, but workers needed to escalate their demands because management has shown them no respect.

In Gage Park, some two dozen people participated in the walkout, about half the number of people working the shift, Miin said. The group’s Facebook video indicated a similar number participating in Cicero.

Amazon had no immediate comment. It has previously said it recognizes employees’ legal rights to protest while insisting it offers industry-leading pay and benefits.

Miin said workers in Gage Park earn $16 to $18 per hour and want a $3-per-hour increase because new hires at an Amazon center in Pullman are getting $19.50.

Workers in Cicero said management has reduced breaks, withheld promotions and converted some permanent employees to temporary status.

The Teamsters union has identified Amazon as an organizing target. Miin said he has had no contact with the Teamsters. “We are our own union and we’re not seeking to be recruited by anybody,” he said.