Amazon workers hit picket line at Pontiac facility over low wages, harsh working conditions

Amazon workers hit the picket line Friday morning outside their fulfillment center in Pontiac. Their chants against the e-commerce giant indicated one emotion: Frustration.

"We're all fed up," said Nick White, an associate worker at the center.

"It's gotten to this point - it's been boiling up for about two years now - it's gotten to the point we're about to erupt as you can see now. Amazon sells this place as a career, but our workers shouldn't have to Doordash, they shouldn't have to Uber, they shouldn't have to do all these side gigs in order to make ends meet.

Hall was flanked by dozens of workers, arguing that overtime shouldn't be the deciding factor in getting rent and bills paid.

And the complaints didn't stop there.

"We're not getting the respect, that's why we're here today," said Alicia Ozier, another worker at the center. "We shouldn't have to work two jobs just to support our families. We should be able to make a fair wage."

Ozier, White, and others holding up picket signs pointed toward Amazon's record profits of to more $230 billion in annual profits which ended on March 31.

And then there's Prime Day that took place this week - which has turned into a two-day affair. Sold as best day of the year to get deals, it can be a boon for prospective shoppers. It's also a huge economic hall for Amazon, which, according to one analytics firm says it raked in more than $12.7 billion in profits during its two-day sale. 

And beyond the wages, Hall said the job itself is also growing untenable.

"Boxes are getting bigger. They're getting heavier," White said. "Yes, they only get up to 50 pounds, but now consistently up to 49.5 pounds - they're pushing it up to that limit."

And then there are the temperatures.

"With the unbearable heat, it's going to cause heatstrokes, and it's a severe safety issue," he said.

"Where are fans? Can we get a fan?" asked Ozier. "The fact that we had to fight to get water on our floors - that should have been a given. It's a need that should have been provided and given. We had to fight for that, to get it on our floor."

Amazon's Lisa Levandowski said that all employees in customer fulfillment and transportation currently earn between $16 and $26 per hour. She says most employees have access to comprehensive benefits starting day 1.

"We certainly respect the right of individuals to peacefully protest," Levandowski said in a statement. "But our focus remains on ensuring our employees and partners delivering for customers are safe and able to work freely. We’re grateful to them for their hard work and commitment. And, with less than one percent of the employees at the facilities participating in today’s protest, we don’t anticipate any significant impact to our operations."