MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — The run-up to Amazon Prime Day, the e-commerce giant’s big July sales promotion, overlaps with Ramadan, 30 sacred days during which many observant Muslims fast and seek time off.
That’s creating tension in Minnesota’s Twin Cities region, where activists say Amazon.com Inc. employs more than 1,000 East African Muslim immigrants at four warehouses. Amazon needs to stuff its facilities with inventory in preparation for one of its busiest days of the year at the very time many of those workers want a break.
The conflicting demands of the religious holiday and the corporate one has helped spur something almost unheard of: Concerted workplace activism by employees of Amazon. In a tight labor market, at a sensitive moment for management, employees say the company is making moves to address the culture clash.
“We don’t want to pick between our wages and our faith,” said Abdirahman Ali, one of dozens of workers from the four facilities who organizers say have become leaders in the effort.
“We offer a positive, safe and accommodating workplace for employees, including providing a great pay of $15 per hour and comprehensive benefits,” Amazon said in a statement. “We respect the religious practices of employees and offer accommodations as needed.”
One person familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified giving details about it, said Amazon has historically made accommodations for workers observing Ramadan, such as providing prayer space and mats and adjusting break times.
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