Amazon workers in Staten Island launching campaign to unionize

A group of Amazon employees at the company's recently opened Staten Island warehouse has launched a unionization effort amid concerns about working conditions, according to multiple reports.

Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that a committee at the Staten Island location is going public with its union push a short time after Amazon announced plans for a $2.5 billion investment in Queens.

Employees who support the effort told Bloomberg that they have dealt with long hours with insufficient breaks and unreasonable quotas, safety concerns and inadequate pay. The workers expressed frustration with the company's inaction toward their concerns while it receives tax breaks and other incentives to build its new headquarters in New York City and Virginia.

Amazon said in a statement that it respects its employees' right to join a union.

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"Amazon maintains an open-door policy that encourages employees to bring their comments, questions, and concerns directly to their management team for discussion and resolution," the company said. "We firmly believe this direct connection is the most effective way to understand and respond to the needs of our workforce.”

The company added that it complies with state laws and employees are prohibited from working more than 60 hours a week. Those who work overtime are compensated for the additional work, the company said.

The company earlier this year raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour amid pressure from lawmakers like Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) Sanders2020 Democrats barnstorm the country for MLK weekend Bill Maher defends Bernie Sanders campaign over sexual harassment allegations Americans need an economy that supports more than the 1 percent MORE (I-Vt.).

Brian Huseman, Amazon’s head of public policy, appeared at a City Council hearing on Wednesday focused on the Queens development, where he said that the company respects "the right of any employee to join a union.”

The technology and online retail giant announced last month that it had selected New York City and Arlington, Va., after a year-long search for its new HQ2 location and that it would be opening a logistics office in Nashville, Tenn.

Between the three sites, Amazon will be receiving about $2.4 billion in performance-based tax incentives, including $1.5 billion in incentives in New York City.

Local leaders have hailed the development as an economic victory, while critics have questioned why one of the largest companies in the country deserved tax breaks. 

Updated at 8:58 p.m.