Pilot union Teamsters Local 1224, which represents pilots who fly for Atlas Air, Southern Air and ABX Air, announced that it would be standing in solidarity with Amazon warehouse workers in Shakopee, Minnesota striking on Prime Day, today.
The union president, pilot Daniel C. Wells, said that they hope Amazon takes the strike seriously.
“As we know firsthand, Amazon’s business model too often neglects the well-being of the workers who make the e-commerce giant so incredibly successful,” he said in a statement. “We’re proud to be the airline professionals who fly the planes that deliver Amazon’s packages to millions of Americans, but we want to make sure we’re engaged in a sustainable, long-term operation.”
Other unions in the industry are speaking in support of the strike as well. Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, retweeted a Bloomberg article on the strike with a quote from one of the employees who organized it.
ATTENTION: Strike Amazon tomorrow!
William Stolz, one of the Shakopee employees organizing the strike said, “We want to take the opportunity to talk about what it takes to [get packages to your home] and put pressure on Amazon to protect us and provide safe, reliable jobs.” #1job https://t.co/iRAX2rmtL2
— Sara Nelson (@FlyingWithSara) July 14, 2019
Pilot Michael Russo, Atlas Air Teamsters 1224 strike prep chair, also tweeted about the strike, linking it with Teamsters’ own labor struggles. He’ll be attending the strike to demonstrate the union’s support.
I'm looking forward to attending in a show of solidarity as a contract pilot for Amazon Prime Air. Pressures are increasing on all links in this supply chain, from fulfillment center workers to truck drivers and cargo pilots. https://t.co/YXyHw4OKUH
— Michael Russo (@M_A_Russo) July 14, 2019
Teamsters Local 1224 also launched a digital ad campaign to draw attention to their own cause, on “how they are being overworked, underpaid and disrespected by their carriers,” a spokesman told Air Cargo World. The ads – which include phrases such as: “Amazon Air is adding planes on planes on planes – but losing more pilots,” and “Our Pilots: Underpaid. Overworked. Disrespected,” – link to a website that “provides background from the pilots’ perspective about serious issues at their carriers,” according to the spokesman.
Teamsters Local 224 has been embroiled in a labor dispute with Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings since 2016. The union has argued that its pilots are paid below industry standards, and that half-pay sick days and a lack of maternity leave is driving pilots away.
Last month, the union lost an arbitration case against Atlas Air over a dispute related to the union’s responsibilities in the company’s merger with Southern Air. Only last week, Atlas announced a U.S. Court of Appeals decision favoring Atlas Air and Polar Air, in which the court directed the pilot union to end work slowdowns encouraged by the union.
Wells said that the union disagrees with the decision and plans to “promptly petition for a rehearing.”