Demonstrators gathered in front of an Amazon warehouse facility in San Bernardino Monday as part of a Cyber Monday protest.
Ana Cervantes is one of the protesters. She’s with the San Bernardino Airport Communities Coalition.
Cervantes: “We're here because we are speaking out against unjust development at the Eastgate Air Cargo Facility that's right now in plans.”
The group is reacting to rumors that Amazon wants to establish an air cargo hub at the Eastgate Air Cargo Logistics Center in San Bernardino. The air cargo facility has been approved by the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, but has yet to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The group wants Amazon to provide a community benefits agreement that will ensure environmental and labor protections for the new project, if it is the new tenant there.
Cervantes: “So to feel like development is coming in, big names like Amazon are coming in and they're taking advantage of our people by bringing in trucks, bringing in more pollution in an area that is already heavily polluted, one of the most polluted communities in the United States, with zero benefits to what you bring to the community but you will be profiting from our people - it's just completely unjust and we're not going to stand for it anymore.”
Amazon operates 14 goods-moving facilities in the Inland Empire and is the region’s largest private-sector employer with about 20,000 workers.
In an emailed statement, Amazon spokesperson Kristen Kish said “Amazon has been an active member of the Inland Empire business community for several years, investing over $2 billion and creating more than 20,000 jobs in the area and an additional 34,600 jobs at area businesses.”
The statement goes on to say, “we take community concerns very seriously. Broadly, Amazon offers great wages paying $15 per hour or more and is a leader in environmental sustainability.”
Kish added that the company has donated more than 1.5 million to charities in California since 2012, and Amazon associates have dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours to local charities.
Benjamin Reynoso, an economic organizer with the Inland Congregations United for Change, doesn’t accept that argument.
Reynoso: “We all know why we're here. This holiday the corporations want to claim as the most profitable day behind Black Friday would not be possible without the hardworking employees inside of the Amazon fulfillment centers across the globe. In San Bernardino we have the highest concentrations, but that doesn't make us alone. I stand in solidarity with the San Bernardino Airport Communities Coalition. Our fight is no secret, our fight has been for community benefits, for serious accountability, for local electeds to the corporations who receive our tax money. How much do you believe that Amazon made last year? 11 billion. How much did they pay in income tax? Take a wild guess! It's round! Zero! How much did they receive? 149 million dollars. Just last year.”
It's still unknown whether Amazon will move into the Eastgate Air Cargo Logistics Center. But if they do, they can certainly expect more resistance.