Muslim Amazon workers protest over insufficient number of breaks for prayer


Amazon workers in Minnesota staged a protest Friday evening over working conditions, demanding a safer work environment and a sufficient number of breaks to pray.

Shakopee Valley News reported dozens, possibly hundreds of Muslim workers, many of them East African immigrants, were joined by supporters with signs outside the Shakopee fulfillment center.

Workers are reportedly expected to pack 230-240 boxes an hour, and the number can fluctuate up to 400 depending on demand. Warehouse employees can get written-up by a manager if they don't meet the requirement, which may lead to their termination.

Amazon workers are given one 30-minute break and two 15-minute breaks per shift. Khadra Ibrahin , who works at the facility, told Vox that workers are fearful of "wasting time" to get water with the boxing requirements so high.

Somali American and Minnesota Congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar joined the gathering, telling protesters, "I'm excited that you recognize your power. Amazon doesn't work if you don’t work. ... Thank you for saying 'Enough!'"

"We work hard every day to ensure all of our employees are treated fairly and with dignity and respect, including here in Minnesota where we have an open and direct dialogue with employees," Amazon said in a statement to Vox.

Employees in Shakopee became the first American group to negotiate with the e-commerce giant, according to the New York Times. In November, Amazon negotiated with workers, agreeing to certain terms, however, workers were still at odds with the pace they are expected to work at.