Amazon Prime Day used as protest platform

by Mae Anderson And Anne D'Innocenzio THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK – This year, some used Amazon’s high-profile Prime Day sales event as a way to garner attention for their protests against the e-commerce behemoth.

At a warehouse in Shakopee, Minnesota, Amazon workers staged a protest Monday to raise awareness of what they say are unfair working conditions.

A group of tech workers in Seattle, called Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, is supporting the strike.

Amazon said late last night that roughly 15 workers participated in the event outside of the Shakopee fulfillment centre.

On Twitter, Massachusetts Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren voiced her support for the workers as well.

Amazon says it already offers what the workers are asking for.

“We provide great employment opportunities with excellent pay – ranging from $16.25-$20.80 an hour, and comprehensive benefits including health care, up to 20 weeks parental leave, paid education, promotional opportunities, and more,” spokeswoman Brenda Alfred said.

The company has faced labour unrest before in Shakopee and in Europe .

In New York, a coalition of labour groups planned to deliver 250,000 petitions to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s Manhattan home calling on the company to cut business ties with ICE and end abusive working conditions in its warehouses.

And some on Twitter called for a blanket boycott of Amazon during Prime Day.

San Diego State University Marketing Professor Steven Osinski said the protests were unlikely to have an effect on sales, however.

“Americans liking discounts will trump worrying about higher wages for two days,” he said.

The company counts more than 100 million subscribers to its Prime loyalty program, which costs $119 a year and provides free two-day shipping, free streaming movies, TV shows, music and other perks.

The gravitational pull of Amazon Prime Day is so strong on shoppers it’s benefiting other retailers as well, according to an early analysis from a key data group.

On Monday, the first day of its 48-hour sales event, large retailers, those that generated annual revenue of at least a billion dollars, enjoyed a 64 percent increase in online sales compared with an average Monday, according to Adobe Analytics, which measures 80 of the top 100 retailers on the web in the U.S. That compares to last year’s 54 percent. In addition, niche retailers, those with annual revenue of less than US$5 million, had a 30 percent increase in online sales.

Amazon’s fifth annual Prime Day, which this year began Monday afternoon, was created to drum up sales during sluggish summer months and sign up more users for the company’s membership program.

Other retailers have introduced sales to compete against Prime Day. Walmart has a “summer savings event” through Wednesday. Best Buy, eBay, Target and other retailers are also offering discounts.