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November 19, 2023

Students fundraise for Palmdale Amazon delivery drivers on strike

Amazon terminated its contract for 84 delivery drivers after they unionized in June. They’ve been picketing at warehouses around the country since.

Samson Zhang
teamsters strike at san bernardino

Amazon organizers visited Claremont on Saturday to host a fundraising training and bring students into a fundraising drive for striking workers.

The drive focuses on supporting delivery drivers from DAX8, an Amazon fulfillment center an hour north of LA, who have been on strike since June 24 in protest of retaliation for unionizing. Organizers aim to raise $40,000 by Dec. 3 so that the workers can stay on strike through the upcoming “peak season,” when delivery volume is the highest because of the holidays.

Delivery drivers on Unfair Labor Practice strike

The 84 drivers from DAX8 have faced retaliation from Amazon since beginning to organize by putting together a petition demanding better working conditions last year.

“We’re out in the high desert, so it’s extremely hot out here. It’s 110 outside in the back of these vans,” said Jessie Moreno. Most of the vehicles do not have air conditioning or even fans in the back. Regardless, delivery times are enforced down to the minute.

Another DAX8 driver described being pushed to finish her delivery route after having a miscarriage while working.

In April, the workers voted to unionize with the Teamsters, negotiating a union contract with the Amazon subcontractor they worked with. The Guardian reported that the DAX8 workers are the first Amazon delivery drivers to unionize and win a contract.

Subsequently, Amazon eliminated work contracts with the subcontractor for all 84 unionized workers, according to an NLRB complaint that the Teamsters filed on June 24, which alleged that Amazon broke federal labor law.

DAX8 drivers have picketed at over 20 Amazon warehouszes across the country since then, supporting organizing by fulfillment center workers inside.

Supporting Inland Empire fights

After picketing in San Bernardino in June and July, the drivers returned to the San Bernardino Air Hub (KSBD) on Sept. 25. Dozens of Claremont students joined the Teamsters picket line in September.

Amazon warehouses have injury rates twice that of the overall warehouse industry, according to OSHA data.

KSBD workers have also faced high temperatures without adequate break time or access to water, in violation of state OSHA standards. The warehouse workers have not voted to be represented by any union in bargaining, but an organizing committee at the facility won heat hazard protections and $1.75 in raises after leading two walkouts in the past year.

Sophia Latkin, a Scripps alum who works and organizes at KSBD, said that picketing DAX8 drivers boosted the morale of organizing inside the fulfillment center.

“For my hundreds of coworkers to see this solid group of drivers outside the building, blocking trucks from going into our place for hour. at a time…it’s inspiring to be part of the fight for better with solid folks like the drivers,” she said. “They play a really important role in one of the strengths of Amazon, which is getting [packages] delivered in two days, but also it’s a major vulnerability for the company if anything goes a little wrong.”

Keeping the momentum up

Pitzer alum Noah Knowlton-Latkin led the “grassroots fundraising” training, which he said was inspired by the strategies of an advocacy organization in New York called For the Many.

As part of the training, participants brainstormed a list of people to reach out to, using prompts to think of family members, childhood friends, college friends, coworkers and other connections.

Participants also came up with a draft message for one person to reach out to based on a template structure.

The funds will allow the DAX8 workers to stay on strike and keep up the momentum of organizing among Amazon workers, Moreno said.

“It’s extremely important that we continue this fight because it’s not just for us drivers, it’s for the warehouse workers, it’s for anybody that handles any package that goes through an Amazon facility,” he said. “Amazon is a $1.2 trillion corporation. They have massive amounts of money. They’re reaching into every sector possible in the world. They’re trying to control the world, so to speak, and it’s time for the workers to stand up and come after a fair share.”

DAX8 driver Jesus Guttierez, who came to the Claremont fundraising training, connected the Amazon fight to the growth of the labor movement across different sectors.

“It’s not just us. We got workers from the autos, we got certain teachers. Our generation’s pretty much fed up, because we’ve been taken advantage [of]. If you don’t exercise our right [to protest], nothing’s gonna change. It’s gonna take us as a collective to do something.”

Samson Zhang PO ’25 is an editor for Undercurrents and a student organizer with the Claremont Student Worker Alliance. They previously covered Asian American communities for the Sacramento Bee and non-profit publication The Yappie.

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Thanks for reading Undercurrents

Undercurrents reports on labor, Palestine liberation, prison abolition and other community organizing at and around the Claremont Colleges.

Issue 1 / Spring 2023

Setting the Standard

How Pomona workers won a historic $25 minimum wage; a new union in Claremont; Tony Hoang on organizing

Read issue 1