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Educator vs. Amazon

Oregon educator Enrique Farrera helped organize Amazon employees to demand better working conditions; and Florida educator Dorothy Schroader shares how she changed from a “mean” teacher into an advocate for her students.
Enrique Farrera is an academic advisor and career coach in Portland, Oregon

Enrique Farrera, an academic advisor at Clackamas Community College and a member of the Oregon Education Association (OEA), is bringing his union experience to a growing movement to organize Amazon warehouse workers.

“My work in education and as a union member has given me a unique and different perspective on how working together can improve people’s lives for the greater good of society,” says Farrera, who is a former building representative, a two-term local president of the col-lege’s Association of Classified Employees, and a current member of the NEA Board of Directors.

In 2019, Farrera needed some extra income and took a side job at a local Amazon warehouse. “During my employment, I found it difficult to work in precarious conditions that are unjustifiable in any warehousing environment,” he says. 

As reported by the Washington Post, New York Times, and other news outlets, Amazon has faced mounting criticism over the last several years with employees citing long hours, dangerous productivity demands, and high injury rates, along with other complaints.

Farrera’s desire to work for the common good inspired him to connect with the Amazon Workers Solidarity Campaign, a group that helps organize warehouse workers and raise awareness of workplace issues. Among other concerns, they wanted adequate accommodations for lunch and rest breaks, as well as training on how to operate some equipment. 

How Are They Organizing?

While the campaign staff  supports organizing efforts on the inside (such as petition drives, short walkouts, and meeting takeovers to press for better working conditions), Farrera helps to organize them on the outside.

He often holds one-on-one conversations with Amazon employees at social gatherings and casual meetups after their shifts—all to build a support network and create ideas and actions for their objectives.

“I want employees to have a voice to improve their working conditions and benefits that will allow them to have quality health insurance, pay, and access to fair representation,” he says. “Employees are open to being part of a union environment.” (Note: Warehouse names and locations have been withheld to protect ongoing organizing efforts. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on this story.)


National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.