Amazon workers at a Chicago warehouse were left outraged that chicken and waffles were being served as part of the facility’s Juneteenth celebration.
The workers at the Amazon warehouse known as DCH1 were told Thursday that the facility was ‘honoring the Black community by supporting local Black businesses’ by serving chicken and waffles on Friday – Juneteenth – a document obtained by CNBC revealed.
A picture, which appears to be a screenshot of an electronic sign located over a vending machine, was posted on the Facebook group, DCH1 Amazonians United.
The sign reads: ‘We stand in solidarity honoring the black community by supporting local black businesses. We are happy to share an authentic meal crafted by Chicago’s Chicken + Waffles June 19th.’
Chicago Amazon warehouse employees are outraged that management decided to serve chicken and waffles at their facility while marking Juneteenth Friday
An Amazon worker at the Chicago warehouse posted an image of the signage used to tell employees why they had picked the particular chicken and waffles restaurant for catering
‘On Juneteenth, a day to celebrate some level of Liberation and Freedom won by Black people, Amazon is “standing in solidarity” and “honoring the Black community” by giving us, majority Black workforce at DCH1, Chicken and Waffles,’ the Facebook post accompanying the screenshot read.
‘As people throughout the world are rising up against cops, corporations and this anti-Black capitalist system we live under, Amazon mocks us with this racist form of “celebration.” So much for supporting your Black/African American employees. Where’s the Solidarity in that? We demand a paid holiday, not some damn chicken.’
The Facebook group added that some warehouse workers’ responses to the chicken and waffles included ‘That’s some racist s**t, who idea was that lol’ and ‘I love chicken and waffles, but damn that IS insulting as hell. Should I bring the watermelon too? Lol.’
One warehouse worker supposedly said: ‘I just wanna know what uncle Tom’s was sittin there and agreed to this sh**. It’s way too many black people in there as management to let this be seen as ok.’
An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC in a statement that: ‘The leader who put on this event had good intentions to honor Juneteenth by supporting a local small business owned by a member of the Black community.’
The spokesperson said that the warehouse’s Juneteenth catering was being ordered from one of the employees’ favorite restaurants.
The food had been selected to be served at the Chicago Amazon warehouse known as DCH1
The warehouse signage was posted on Thursday and removed after employees complained
An Amazon spokesperson said that the food was being ordered from one of the workers’ favorite restaurants, Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles (pictured)
Amazon’s official Twitter posted a series of tweets commemorating Juneteenth on Friday
The warehouse’s site leader – who is black – was among the diverse local leadership who picked the restaurant, as well as created the signage, the spokesperson said.
‘After receiving some feedback from team members at the site, they’ve since decided to remove the sign in question,’ the spokesperson also said.
According to the sign, the restaurant in question is called Chicago’s Chicken and Waffles, which is an African-American-owned, soul food restaurant with two locations in the city.
Along with chicken and waffles, the restaurant menu also includes fish, omelets, buffalo wings and a wide variety of ‘down home faves.’
Although Amazon is not one of the companies that has decided to declare Juneteenth a company-wide holiday, CEO Jeff Bezos did send out a memo Tuesday that encouraged employees to cancel meetings on Friday and participate in company-provided ‘online learning opportunities’ about the day.
And, on Friday, the company’s official Twitter account posted a lengthy message about Juneteenth.
‘Juneteenth is an opportunity to pause, recognize, and cement this moment in our national history,’ the tweet reads.
‘To do this, we’ve raised the Pan-African flag at our Seattle HQ and provided Amazonians around the world access to online learning tools and resources intended to park conversation and exploration about how we—as individuals, teams, and a company—can continue to be active participants in dismantling systemic racism, oppression, and inequality. Our work is not done, and we still have a long way to go.’
Illinois-based Warehouse Workers for Justice Associate director Roberto Clack told CNBC that the Chicago warehouse’s Juneteenth celebration made the company’s Black Lives Matter and general Juneteenth support feel ‘tokenized.’
Since the George Floyd protests began in late May, Amazon has committed to donating $10million to social justice organizations, while Bezos has indicated that he is not concerned about losing customers in light of his and the company’s support of Black Lives Matter.
‘I just think it’s insincere,’ Clack told the news channel of Amazon’s Black Lives Matter and Juneteenth support. ‘It’s no secret that a large portion of that workforce is Black.’
He added that the way the company ‘could come through for some of its workers would be to fix issues with safety and working conditions, which are things that people have asked to be addressed.’
Since the coronavirus pandemic exploded in the US, Amazon warehouse workers have claimed that the company hasn’t done enough to protect them from catching the virus.
At least nine warehouse workers have died from coronavirus, Amazon has confirmed. The company has not indicated how many workers might have fallen sick from the virus, but it’s been estimated that about 1,000 workers at warehouses across the country had been diagnosed with it.