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Originally published December 16, 2013 at 4:34 PM | Page modified December 17, 2013 at 6:35 AM

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Rally outside Amazon protests treatment of German employees

A few dozen people gathered Monday outside the online retailer’s Seattle headquarters in support of German employees conducting a one-day strike.


The Associated Press

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On the same day that more than 1,000 workers at Amazon.com in Germany walked off the job in a labor dispute, a few dozen people rallied in solidarity Monday outside the online retailer’s Seattle headquarters.

“I’m here to support our American brothers and sisters ... and to show the German workers that they’re not alone in their strike,” said Nancy Becker, a German worker who flew in Sunday for the rally. She works at the company’s Bad Hersfeld logistics center.

The one-day strike comes during the retailer’s busy Christmas season. The German union Ver.di said Monday that workers were staging one-day warning strikes at Amazon logistics centers in Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld and Graben.

Amazon has about 9,000 full-time employees in Germany and hires about 14,000 seasonal workers, the company said. Spokeswoman Mary Osako said the majority did not strike.

“We feel it is best to work directly with our employees, not through an intermediary. In Germany, there are established works councils, comprised of associates elected by their peers, in eight of our fulfillment centers. We interact with the works councils regularly to create the best working environment possible for our associates,” Osako said.

The union says Amazon workers receive lower wages than others in retail and mail-order jobs. They also say other retailers pay overtime, but Amazon does not.

“What Amazon is doing is taking this American race-to-the-bottom roadshow to Germany and trying it out on our German brothers and sisters. They’ve come all the way from Germany to come to this corporate headquarters to say they’re not going to put up with it,” said David Freiboth, executive secretary of the King County Labor Council.

For its part, Amazon said its distribution warehouses in Germany are logistics centers and that employees are already paid on the upper end of what workers in that industry earn. Their wage packages also include stock grants and bonuses.

The union says that by classifying its centers as “logistics” centers, Amazon can pay lower wages.



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