Monday, December 17, 2018

Core convictions

When one accepts employment, you'd think it would be a safe assumption that one would closely scrutinize the terms agreed upon with one's new employer. And upon starting employment, I imagine there are avenues to file grievances if one feels their employer violated any terms of the hiring agreement.

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that employee complaints of "ZOMG, I'm working too hard!!!!" are not necessarily the result of unfair employment practices.

Tensions continue between Somali-Americans and Amazon as workers gathered outside of the company’s Shakopee fulfillment center Friday night to protest working conditions at the facility.

Incoming U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar joined the group of about 100 protesters, praising their efforts and calling on Amazon to “respect these communities”and “treat them with dignity.”

“People who are going to receive those gifts — the packages you are putting together — need to know that every worker here is not fully happy,” Omar said. “Amazon doesn’t work if you don’t work.”

Really? Perhaps these employees should call Amazon's bluff by resigning. Fair warning though: I betcha there's a number of people willing to take on those jobs if there are sudden mass vacancies.

The strain between Amazon and the East African community centers around what the protesters consider an unreasonable productivity rate, unsafe working conditions, and a lack of religious provisions. Activist organizations have been in negotiations with Amazon for several months, but progress stalled last month leaving “collective disappointment that Amazon didn’t do more to address their concerns,” according to the Star Tribune.

Again, prospective applicants likely had a general idea of what these jobs would entail. Is it totally unreasonable to suggest that they take a proactive approach in the interview process to glean what specifically would be required of them? And while it is true that it is against the law to discriminate against potential hires based on religious affiliation, there certainly is no law which forces employers to provide extra special provisions to accommodate one religious belief over another.

Nevertheless, it appears Amazon took the initiative to go beyond the minimum requirements.

While the East African community calls for greater religious accommodations, Amazon contends they have made significant attempts to work with their religious beliefs including supplying prayer mats to workers in the Shakopee facility, converting a conference room to a prayer room during Ramadan, and allowing flexible work schedules during Ramadan.

In a statement obtained by the Star Tribune, Amazon disputed the protesters’ claims, saying they “have a great safety record” and “work hard every day to ensure all of our employees are treated fairly and with dignity and respect.”

A personal story: I thought for a time I'd be interested in working in professional sales at the company which employed me right out of college (spoiler alert: sales was not my thing). I worked for a scrap metal company at the time, which meant we dealt with a lot of blue collar workers in factories. Part of my job every Christmas season was making the rounds to our more prolific customers to thank them for their business as well as provide some gifts of appreciation. One gift in particular which was earmarked for the guys in a company's "shop" was a Playboy calendar. As a Christian, I not only objected to such content but also had no interest in transporting the material, a sentiment I made known to my boss. I was so convicted in my objections that I made it known I would tender my resignation if required to distribute these calendars. Thankfully my boss was understanding enough to have someone else take care of that aspect of the gift-giving.

My point is I didn't make any demands that my employer cede to my religious beliefs, nor would it have been the right thing for me to do so. Many of these Amazon employees will learn the hard way that the U.S. government (especially a grandstanding Congresswoman-elect) doesn't have the ability to force employers to go beyond what is required by law.


1 comment:

jerrye92002 said...

Long ago I worked with a few folks like that. My quick conclusion was that they felt they should be in charge and not take orders/guidance/help from someone outside their faith. Do the job or get fired.