When Amazon grows, these communities pay the price

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Opponents of the new Amazon warehouses say many of the new jobs they create end up hurting workers. Surveys have found that Amazon warehouse workers are pressured to work at a speed that can cause accidents, repetitive strain injuries and other bodily injuries, with injury rates far higher than average in the world. warehousing industry. According to information from ProPublica and others.

These issues contribute to extremely high turnover among Amazon warehouse workers: a recent New York Times investigation estimated that about 3 percent of Amazon’s hourly workers leave the company each week.

“They come with the pretext of creating jobs, but in reality we know these jobs are an exploitation of our communities,” says Alfredo Romo, executive director of Neighbors for Environmental Justice, a side-based rights organization. southwest Chicago. “Our communities have historically been asked to sacrifice our health for the sake of jobs.”

For Romo, the Amazon facility that opened near his home this year is the physical embodiment of a missed opportunity. The warehouse is located in the McKinley Park district, just 3 miles from the Gage Park delivery center.

He and other local activists had been pushing for the abandoned building that previously stood where the warehouse was built to be turned into a community center, complete with a gym, health clinic and maybe even a startup incubator. . These types of amenities go to a former industrial area next to Lincoln Park, an affluent neighborhood on the whiter and wealthier north side of town, which is being redeveloped with housing, offices, waterfront businesses. the river and green spaces. But when the city considered the future of a similar area on the southwest side, about a mile from the McKinley Park warehouse, it recommended keeping it industrial.

Looking at the vast warehouse across the street this summer, Romo shook his head. “These things are happening on the North Side, but why not here, where the poor black and brown people live? Can we get that stuff too? “

Construction workers dressed in neon yellow were digging around the corner, where a sign indicating Amazon’s new building would soon rise. Romo greeted them in Spanish as he passed.

“We could have done so many great things here, things that could have helped the community,” he said. “Instead, we get this warehouse that’s going to bring all this pollution, more traffic, more damage to our roads, to our homes. It’s not worth it. We could do better.

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