In the wake of the 250-person strong strike by pilots working for Amazon’s contractor, ABX Air, Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle) is calling on Amazon to heed the demands of pilots from Atlas Air, Southern Air, and Airborne Air, all represented by Teamsters Local 1224. Pilots will picket Wednesday outside of Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle at 410 Terry Ave N., between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., to urge executives to end dangerous and unfair short-staffing issues.
The pilots claim that ABX has violated their employment contract by forcing them to work unscheduled “emergency” flights to keep up with the snowballing demands from companies like Amazon, Puget Sound Business Journal reported.
While unable to attend, Councilmember Sawant issued the following statement in support of Wednesday’s picket:
“I stand with all the pilots represented by Teamsters Local 1224 who are fighting for the basic workers’ right to negotiate a fair contract. It is unacceptable that Amazon continues to contract with companies that refuse to even sit down at the bargaining table with workers. The only reason Amazon can deliver packages and make massive profits for its wealthy executives and shareholders is because of its workers, including the pilots who work long hours and often perform dangerous duties. The pilots deserve a contract they can vote for that meets their needs.
“Amazon continues to fail to hold the companies it contracts with accountable. Security Industry Specialists (SIS), its contracted security company, has been found guilty of violating several labor laws, and has engaged in union busting activity. Now, Amazon is failing to stand up for the rights of the pilots that ship its goods. Fighting for strong labor unions remains as important as ever for the living standards and workplace rights of all workers. It is especially critical now, with historically high levels of inequality in Seattle and worldwide. By courageously going out on strike and building support in the community, the pilots and their union are showing how working people can fight for a better life. Seattle’s working people and activists should all be in solidarity with them throughout their struggle.”
The Seattle Times reported on November 22, 2016 that in March, Amazon inked a deal with ABX Air’s parent company, Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), to lease 20 airplanes in a dedicated air-cargo network connecting Amazon’s far-flung warehouses by the end of 2018. ATSG is already flying 14 of those planes, or 35 flights a day, for Amazon, according to the pilots. The strike also affects DHL, for which ABX makes 45 flights a day. Amazon also holds options to buy stakes in both ATSG and Atlas Air.
“We expect the court will uphold our position that the actions taken by the union to refuse work assignments is not legal, and the issues involved constitute a minor dispute to be resolved via arbitration under the terms of our current labor agreements,” ABX Air President John Starkovich said in an emailed statement to Seattle Times.
The strike couldn’t have happened at a more inconvenient time for Amazon. The holiday season is their busiest of the year.
“We work with a variety of carriers and are confident in our ability to serve customers,” Amazon said in a statement. “We re-balanced capacity across our carrier partners and we are leaving the adjustments in place until we are certain there will be no further disruptions.”