Remote Work Gives Amazon Workers a Common Cause

The company has more than 350,000 corporate and tech employees globally. More than 800 in Seattle and 1,600 globally have pledged to participate in the walkout. Some employees, particularly working parents, pin some of their frustration to the financial toll of returning to the office, especially the cost and pressures of child care.

The vast majority of Amazon’s more than one million workers, including those who formed a union at a Staten Island warehouse, have been working in person throughout the pandemic.

Apple, where employees issued open letters protesting in-person work, and the Gap have encountered a similar dynamic. At Starbucks, more than 70 named employees, along with others who remained anonymous, released a petition this year urging the company to permit them to keep working remotely. Members of the union representing Starbucks baristas have been supportive of these corporate workers, even though most of the company’s roughly 250,000 U.S. employees, including those across more than 300 unionized stores, cannot work from home.

Indeed, many workers in warehouses and stores have been quick to show support for their corporate colleagues, noting that they have nothing to gain from seeing office workers lose out on the flexibility that the pandemic proved was possible.

“The work that we’re doing is in two separate fields,” said Anna Ortega, 23, who is active in Inland Empire Amazon Workers United, a group of warehouse workers, and has been working at an Amazon facility in San Bernardino, Calif., for almost two years. “It’s just showing us that Amazon has a problem with workers and listening to us.”

Ms. Ortega spends her days lifting 50-pound packages — a task she could never do from home. But she said she supported the Amazon workers who were asking for the flexibility to keep working remotely.

“If your employees are happy and are able to work productively from home, I think they would be able to bring better results,” Ms. Ortega said.

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