Report: Thousands of Amazon workers support internal petition demanding paid time off to vote

Amazon HQ in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Thousands of Amazon workers reportedly signed onto an internal petition on Tuesday demanding that the company provide paid time off between now and Election Day so that employees can vote.

NBC News reported that the petition, posted on the company’s internal ticketing system, had more than 3,200 supporters by noon PT on Tuesday. The system is one way employees can submit requests for changes to company policies.

“We are less than a month away from the 2020 U.S. election,” NBC said the petition read. “I strongly urge the company to provide the entire US employee workforce with a paid day/shift off that can be used anytime between now and Election Day on Nov 3. This additional day/shift off must be available to all employees every year.”

Amazon says that in all 47 states with in-person voting, employees who lack adequate time before or after their scheduled workday to vote, can request and be provided excused time off. The number of hours and pay provided to employees varies by state, in line with local laws, according to the company. The tech giant also says it has supplied all of employees with information on how to register to vote, details of their local polling locations and how to request time off to vote.

NBC reported that the action was organized by the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group of Amazon tech workers which launched in early 2019 and initially gained traction with workers over concerns about climate change. The group has also been speaking out on working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

The petition comes at a time when hours-long lines are being reported in states where early voting has begun. And Amazon is in the midst of Prime Day, its huge annual shopping event.

A Prime Day protest in Minnesota scheduled for Wednesday, which will reportedly include workers from the Shakopee, Minn., fulfillment center, is aimed at calling out Amazon’s handling of the pandemic and concerns over the company silencing workers who speak up about safety conditions. Amazon reported at the start of October that more than 19,000 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 as it released detailed data about the spread of the virus in its facilities for the first time.

Prime Day, and Amazon’s soaring profits during the ongoing health crisis, were targeted by critics of the company. Others have expressed concern that the shopping blitz would clog the U.S. Postal Service with packages at a time when election ballots are moving through the system.