Activists Block Front Gate of Vanguard HQ; Call On Amazon’s Largest Shareholder to Stand With Workers

Vanguard HQSubmitted Image, Photo by Rafael Shimunov

MALVERN, PA — Thursday morning, the Athena Coalition gathered workers, small business owners, and community members at Vanguard Group Headquarters in Malvern, PA to call on the firm, Amazon’s largest shareholder, to help deliver accountability at Amazon.

The Athena Coalition is urging Vanguard and other shareholders to stand with workers and communities of color as they vote during Amazon’s 2022 Annual Meeting by:

  • Standing with workers fighting for better working conditions. Daniel Olayiwola, a warehouse worker in San Antonio, has a floor resolution that seeks to end the injury and turnover crisis by halting pro- ductivity quotas and worker surveillance practices.
  • Voting “Yes” to resolutions that challenge injuries, high-turnover, retaliation, and racial disparities at Amazon (items 9, 13, 16, 17).
  • Voting “Yes” on proposals challenging Amazon’s technology contracts that contribute to human rights abuses, including a $1 billon contract with the Israeli government(Items 6 and 19).
  • Supporting a call by the New York State and New York City Comptrollers to vote “Against” two members of the Board of Directors who oversee Amazon’s employment practices and workplace safety programs, for their failure to address the crisis described above.

Daniel Olayiwola, an Amazon fulfillment center worker in Texas, and the first Amazon warehouse worker to present a resolution during an Amazon annual meeting, stated, “Amazon’s use of productivity metrics and constant surveillance, monitoring, and fast pace of work is directly responsible for high injury rates at Amazon and for the grueling working conditions that put our mental wellbeing at risk every single day. I feel like I am stepping into a sweatshop every time I clock in, where I am treated like a robot rather than a human being.

“In order to ensure the health of its employees, and to meet its commitment to being the “Earth’s Safest Place to Work”, Amazon must let workers complete our tasks at a safe pace, free from second-by-second monitoring.”

Specifically, Olayiwola’s resolution stipulates that bans on productivity quotas and worker surveillance should include drivers for Delivery Service Partners and other third-party contractor employees. This is significant not only because Amazon heavily relies on contracted workers for its operations, but also because of the dangerous conditions that Amazon’s pressures pose: recent reports found that contractors were nearly 50% more likely to get hurt on the job than UPS drivers were.

Olayiwola will present his resolution virtually during Amazon’s Annual Meeting on May 25, 2022, at 9 am PT.

Bianca Agustin, Corporate Accountability Director at United for Respect, stated, “For more than a decade, Amazon workers and communities have been calling for an end to the dangerous surveillance tech and unsafe working conditions in warehouses across the country. This year, Amazon shareholders are sounding the alarm as well. For the first time, a warehouse worker is bringing forward a resolution to end Amazon’s high tech sweatshop model, and to stop the injury crisis.

“Year after year, Amazon has failed to address their dangerous workplace conditions, and their abuse of surveillance practices. Shareholders have had enough. In total, shareholders will be voting on 10 resolutions this year aimed at protecting workers and communities––and finally reigning in Amazon’s bad behavior.”

In addition to this historic resolution filed by Daniel, several other decisions during Amazon’s 2022 Annual Meeting will serve as a referendum on the growing investor concern about the direction of the company and its impact on workers, communities, and the planet. Last week, the Athena Coalition and Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility hosted a roundtable detailing these decisions, and what is at stake during Amazon CEO Andy Jassy’s first annual general meeting of shareholders. Featured during the call were:

You can watch a recording of the roundtable here.

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