Amazon STL8 workers, SLU Hospital nurses rally for safer work conditions on Prime Day


AMAZON HURTS was the message of Amazon STL8 warehouse workers who say workplace injuries at the warehouse are exacerbated by Amazon’s in-house healthcare provider, AmCare, whose agents minimize workers’ injuries and send them back work after they are hurt on the job. – Labor Tribune photo

St. Peters, MO – Amazon workers and SSM Health/Saint Louis University Hospital nurses represented by National Nurses United (NNU) joined together outside of the Amazon STL8 warehouse here Oct. 11 to demand safer work conditions in response to an injury crisis spanning both industries.

The rally and press conference coincided with Amazon’s October Prime Day sales Oct. 10 and 11.

NNU nurses held a free clinic outside the facility in a show of solidarity and support for STL8 workers who have been injured on the job.

Amazon STL8 workers shared stories of being injured on the job and mistreated by AmCare, Amazon’s in-house health facility, whose agents minimized their injuries and ordered them back to work.

“When you get hurt at work you shouldn’t be treated this way,” said Christine Manno, an Amazon STL8 worker and STL8 Organizing Committee member who is on medical leave after being injured at work. “Amazon has an injury crisis they’re trying to cover up. Their in-house clinic minimized my injuries. Their workman’s comp doctor tried to pass off my injuries as pre-existing conditions. Their insurance put up roadblocks to my treatment at every turn. They sent me back to work too soon, only allowing me one day off after my hand surgeries. They think if they make you jump through enough hoops, you’ll just give up. But we can’t give up. There’s too much at stake.”

SSM/SLU nurses, who went on a 24-hour strike Sept. 25 to protest the administration’s refusal to address RNs’ concerns about patient care, safe staffing, and workplace violence, stood in solidarity with Amazon workers, noting the similarities in their situations.

“Regardless of industry, we know that workplace injuries increase where employers force workers to do more with less people or in less time… Our employers’ bottom line benefits at the expense of our bodies,” said Rachel Williams, a National Nurses United union member and registered nurse at SSM/SLU Hospital.

Nurses experience chronic pain, musculoskeletal disorders, and back injuries from short staffing and other workplace conditions that prevent them from caring for patients in a way that protects their bodies, she noted.

Sprains, strains, and tears constitute 52 percent of all injuries that result in days away from work for RNs, and the injury rate among nurses is roughly three times higher than the average injury rate for U.S. workers.

Wendy Taylor, another STL8 worker and organizing committee member who tore a meniscus (the cartilage in one of her knees) at work, said they are all in the same struggle. Whether you’re in the warehouse, the hospital, or the auto industry, our employers don’t care about us and our lives. The companies we work for make millions, billions and trillions of dollars. The least they can do is treat us with the respect, dignity and the care we deserve on and off the job.

“The solidarity we are demonstrating across industries today is only going to grow,” she said. “Because it has to. It takes all of us coming together and taking bold action to guarantee that our employers use the resources we know they have to treat us like the human beings we are.”

Amazon workers at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island also took action during the Prime promotion to demand a living wage, the return of bonuses, and profit sharing.

AMAZON STL8 warehouse workers and SSM/SLU Hospital nurses represented by National Nurses United, held a joint action Oct. 11 outside the Amazon STL8 warehouse in St. Peters, Mo., to call out the unsafe work conditions in both their industries. Speaking here, The Rev. Darryl Gray, pastor of the Greater Fairfax Missionary Baptist Church, said “We believe that corporations should prioritize health over profits.” – Labor Tribune photo

The Rev. Darryl Gray, civil engagement coordinator for the Baptist Ministers Union of St. Louis and pastor of the Greater Fairfax Missionary Baptist Church, joined workers outside the Amazon warehouse and summed up what the struggles for Amazon STL8, SSM/SLU Hospital nurses and United Autoworkers (UAW) on strike against the Big Three automakers (including members of UAW Local 2250 in Wentzville) are about.

“We believe that as workers we’re entitled to a safe environment. We’re entitled to a healthy environment. We believe that corporations should prioritize health over profits,” he said. “We want the workers to know that they’re not by themselves. We want workers to know that they need not be afraid, that allies are here. That the church is here. That community organizations are here. That other Labor organizations are here.

“Amazon, SSM/SLU and the auto companies have caused a serious crisis of injuries among their workers. These companies have deprived workers of livable wages despite soaring corporate profits. There is no question that profits in this country continue to go up, but wages don’t go up.”

In July, Amazon STL8 workers filed an OSHA complaint about the company’s inhumane work rates, the poor ergonomic conditions in the workplace, and the abusive and neglectful treatment from AmCare, Amazon’s in-house health facility, following job-related injuries. OSHA has been investigating the St. Peters warehouse since then and has visited the facility multiple times.

In June, following STL8 worker Jennifer Crane’s visit to Washington, D.C., the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee launched an investigation into Amazon’s warehouse working conditions. In a letter to Amazon’s Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy, Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vt.) requested information regarding the conditions at the STL8 fulfillment center.

Workers at STL8 have been building strength in numbers since summer of 2022 in light of the corporation’s safety crisis: While Amazon made $33 billion in 2021, warehouse worker injury rates at the company remain double the industry average.

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