Protesters, pilots and Jesse Jackson all showed up at Amazon Tuesday | KUOW News and Information

Protesters, pilots and Jesse Jackson all showed up at Amazon Tuesday

May 23, 2017

As shareholders heard about revenue gains at Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting Tuesday, protesters gathered outside the building.

The company’s revenue grew to $136 billion in 2016, up from $107 billion the year before. Amazon also grew its employee base to more than 340,000 people worldwide in 2016.

The online retail giant shows no sign of slowing. And as the company continues to grow, Amazon is facing pressure on social and political issues.

"It's fantastic that Amazon has had these successes, but they can't do that on the backs of the climate, on the backs of workers, on the backs of our local communities that are getting pushed out of Seattle. So they need to be a leader both locally and globally," said Rebecca Deutsch, an organizer for environmental advocacy group, 350 Seattle.

Deutsch joined dozens of protesters who gathered Tuesday to raise a myriad of issues.

Workers for an Amazon security contractor say they want better wages and working conditions.

Similarly, pilots who fly Amazon Prime Air delivery planes say Amazon needs to put more pressure on their partners to enact fair work standards.

"We want Mr. Bezos and the Amazon board to go to our company and tell them to pay us fairly, to treat us fairly. We want our company to live up to some of the standards and the message that Amazon has, which they're currently not doing,” said Robert Kircher, a pilot with Prime Air carrier Atlas Air.

In a statement, Amazon said questions about the working environment of their partners is best addressed by those partners.

The statement continued:

“All of our delivery providers must abide by our Supplier Code of Conduct and we take seriously any allegation that a delivery provider is not meeting those requirements and expectations. That said, we are pleased with our partners’ performance and their continued ability to scale for our customers.”

Other protesters took aim at Amazon’s advertising practices.

A coalition of advocacy groups — including MoveOn.org, Sleeping Giants and UltraViolet — is calling on the web giant to stop advertising with controversial far-right website Breitbart.

“We want to tell Amazon to stop funding hate,” said Melissa Byrne with UltraViolet.

Byrne said the coalition has collected more than 1 million signatures urging Amazon to drop its relationship with the site.

Several major brands have already abandoned advertising on the site, which has become increasingly controversial since the elections in 2016.

Inside the meeting, social and political conversations continued.

Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson urged the company to address a lack of diversity in their workforce. On his way into the meeting, Jackson said it's important for Amazon to do more as it grows.

"We've gone from a war on poverty to a war on the poor. And the gap between those who have and those who have not is getting much wider. So a company like Amazon should take some leadership responsibility to help close these gaps and share the security, and share the wealth," Jackson said.

Amazon officials say diversity is important to the company and they have multiple initiatives in place aimed at enhancing diversity at Amazon and in the tech field.