NEW YORK - Workers at a Staten Island Amazon fulfillment center claim they are working in brutal conditions that are more dangerous than coal mines and expected to do work at rates design for robots and not humans.
A rally was held Monday afternoon on Staten Island. Activists and workers detailed complaints and demands. The workers and activists protested what they said are inhumane job conditions. They want longer break times and free MetroCards for public buses to get to the worksite.
Organizers claim that more than 600 workers have signed petitions to demand the changes. Workers complain of "brutal shifts" often lasting between 10 and 12 hours. They claim that an analysis of Amazon's own data show the fulfillment center on Staten Island is more dangerous than traditionally dangerous sectors like coal mining and waste collection.
Amazon workers on Staten Island experience severe injuries that require them to miss an average of nearly 64 days of work annually for recovery, according to an analysis from Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change.
Amazon workers will also complain about difficult access to the center with buses that make 47 stops between the Staten Island ferry and the fulfillment center.
The Amazon workers are calling on Amazon to treat workers as humans, not robots, and "deliver dignity and respect."
In a statement emailed to FOX 5 NY, an Amazon spokesperson denied that the fulfillment center is unsafe and said that a "snapshot" of recorded injuries is "misleading" because of the size of the company's workforce.
"Ensuring the safety of associates in our building is our number one priority and we invest heavily in safety," Amazon's Rachael Lighty said in a statement. "Safety training is constant, both in making sure employees know how best to work with the technology in the facility and also how to prevent injuries."
Workplace safety incidents are underreported in the industry as a whole, Lighty said, which is why Amazon in 2016 began to aggressively recording "injuries no matter how big or small which can result in elevated recordable rates and makes comparisons difficult."
Lighty also said in another statement that fewer than five Amazon workers participated in Monday's protest on Staten Island.
"It was obvious to the 4,500-full-time workforce that an outside organization used our building and the upcoming retail holidays to raise its own visibility and spread misinformation," Lighty said.
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