If you are wondering why those last-minute online gifts didn’t arrive, they may be sitting in a New Jersey warehouse, while workers use delays as leverage to get better working conditions from Amazon and other e-tailers, The Post has learned.
Amazon and major retail and apparel chains in New York may have been knocked off course fulfilling customer deliveries by Christmas Day, as warehouse workers in New Jersey protest working conditions and demand higher wages, according to union officials.
“Those kind of things could happen,” said Megan Chambers, a union official and protest organizer, said, amid fears that tons of holiday packages intended for rapid delivery would pile up in New Jersey warehouses and fulfillment centers and miss critical deadlines.
Chambers had no specific knowledge of any planned work stoppages but acknowledged it was a distinct possibility.
“Many of these warehouse distribution workers are long-term, full-time workers with families to support, and they are barely surviving,” said another union official, Alberto Arroyo. “We are proud to support their fight for dignity and justice.”
A troop of these workers took their beef directly to Amazon’s corporate offices in Manhattan recently, standing in the cold outside, demanding a code of conduct and “better treatment” from Amazon and major national retail and clothing chains that contract with distribution centers next door in New Jersey.
“We want jobs where warehouse workers can live in dignity with predictable hours and schedules, workplace safety, fair production quotas and with the right to organize,” Chambers said.
More than 30,000 workers are employed in warehouse and distribution in New Jersey, a current pace of growth that would see the number climbing more than 20 percent by 2024, according to state data. It is also a big slice of the huge growth in low-wage employment nationwide that has offset massive losses in higher paid middle-class jobs like manufacturing.
“New warehouses are popping up all over the state,” said New Jersey warehouse worker Angela Bialoroucki. “If warehouse work is our future, then warehouse jobs should be living-wage jobs. After all the years I’ve put in, I still don’t make $15 an hour, much less a real living wage.”
The warehouse workers’ protests come at a time when Amazon — the largest US e-commerce retailer by revenue — is further being stung by flat growth in its lucrative Prime program during the most recent quarter.
According to Morgan Stanley, Amazon Prime’s growth is slowing.
Prime members are among Amazon’s biggest spenders. “These data are the first evidence of potential Prime penetration limits in Amazon’s oldest market,” the bank wrote in a note earlier this month.
Fears of delivery slowdowns, on top of restive warehouse workers who service Amazon, have also rattled the e-commerce behemoth, insiders say. “We’re confident in our ability to deliver on our customer promise this holiday season,” Amazon said in a statement to The Post.
Amazon is nonetheless on a growth trajectory worldwide, employing more than 540,000 workers in the third quarter, compared with 300,000 in the same year-ago period. Some of that growth came from its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, which employed 87,000 workers.