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Amazon Air Unrest Spreads to Kentucky Air Hub

Another group of Amazon Air Hub workers is rallying around demands for more pay and also calling for union representation, this time at the e-commerce company’s Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport facility. 

The group, which calls itself Unionize Amazon Northern Kentucky, made its demands known earlier this month with calls for a starting wage of $30 an hour, 180 hours of paid time off and union representation. 

Unionize Amazon said “hundreds” of workers have signed a petition in support of unionization. 

The group could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday. 

An Amazon spokesperson reiterated messaging the company has said publicly in the past when it comes to collective bargaining. 

“Our employees have the choice of whether or not to join a union. They always have,” Amazon spokesperson Mary Kate Paradis said in a prepared statement provided to Sourcing Journal Tuesday. “As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees. Our focus remains on working directly with our team to continue making Amazon a great place to work.” 

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Amazon positions in fulfillment and transportation currently have an average starting pay of $19 an hour, based on a range of $16 to $26 per hour. 

Employees at KCVG, the internal name of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport hub, took aim at Amazon’s losses and spending in a statement posted online. The group pointed to Amazon’s stake in electric vehicle maker Rivian Automotive, whose shares are off about 72 percent since the start of the year, and the $8.5 billion purchase of MGM, as the company now faces layoffs that could total as much as 10,000. 

“For this year’s peak season, Amazon is set to work its warehouse associates harder than ever,” Unionize Amazon said. “Management is saddling workers with the consequence of their complete mismanagement and global economic headwinds.” 

The group referenced a mandate given Nov. 3 in which workers will be scheduled for weekly mandatory overtime shifts beginning Nov. 27 and running through Dec. 23. Workers said the move did not provide individuals with children, second jobs or classes enough time to adjust their schedules.  

“Behind the fantasy of Amazon’s digital, one-click instant delivery is a massive human mechanism sorting, picking, packing and delivering goods,” the group said. “This is an oppressive, technologically unadvanced, low profit margin system that depends on squeezing as much work out of workers as possible.” 

Amazon pumped about $1.5 billion into the development of KCVG, which saw the start of construction in 2019 and an opening in August 2021. 

The roughly 800,000-square-foot facility is a major player within Amazon’s growing air network and broader logistics buildout. 

DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, which studies Amazon’s air ambitions, said the KCVG hub saw flights continue to expand in the period between March and September of this year, even as its overall air network growth cooled. Chaddick researchers found Kentucky flights grew from 25.6 to 43.9 for the March-September period, calling the facility combined with operations at the nearby Wilmington Air Park “increasingly the nerve center” for Amazon’s air operations domestically. 

The unrest at KCVG follows a rally held last month in San Bernardino, Calif. by some workers at the Amazon Air Hub there, called KSBD. 

The workers, led by the Inland Empire Amazon Workers United, are also asking for increased pay, improved safety measures at work and a halt to what it said was retaliation from the company. 

The rally appeared to be supported by a local chapter of the Teamsters, which has also made their efforts in supporting Amazon workers public. The union held a rally outside Amazon headquarters in September after it announced earlier that month the launch of its Amazon Division, aimed at being a resource for the company’s workers.