Sara Fee is a founder and leader of Inland Empire Amazon Workers United, a group of warehouse workers seeking to transform working conditions inside Amazon facilities, like the one she works at in San Bernardino, California. Before joining the panel at a Zócalo event in Sacramento called “What Is a Good Job Now For Fairness in the Workplace?”—presented in partnership with The James Irvine Foundation—she chatted in our green room about the frustrations of rooting for the Chargers, the joys of living in the mountains, and the strangest item she’s encountered working at Amazon.
What was the first job you ever had?
In the Hickory Farms in the basement of Sears at the Westfield Shopping Center in El Cajon.
What did they pay you?
It might have been a buck or so above minimum wage.
You live in San Bernardino County, but grew up in San Diego. What do you miss most about San Diego?
Being able to go to the beach all the time.
Where would we find you on a typical Sunday afternoon?
Probably at my friend’s house watching football and barbecuing.
OK, I’ll ask: What’s the most difficult thing about being a Chargers fan?
The heartbreak. Every season you know it’s coming. It doesn’t matter how well they do, how proud you are, how good they are—they never win the big one.
Now back to barbecue: if you end up having the choice, what will be your last meal?
Medium-rare ribeye with black truffle salt, and Brussels sprouts.
What was the last book you read?
I’m in the middle of a book called The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. [It’s a 2007 book by Philip Zimbardo, and talks about the Stanford Prison Experiment.]
What’s the best thing about living in the San Bernardino Mountains?
Crestline, my community, still has that small-town feel. It’s the same people you see at the gas station, that you see at the coffee shop, that you see at any event. In a small town, especially in the mountains when you’re away from other towns, you have that sense of community that’s missing in other places.
What’s the strangest item you’ve ever encountered while working for Amazon?
There was one box that was shaking violently. I don’t know what it was. There was also once a French maid’s outfit with some leather items.
You work at the Amazon air hub out of the San Bernardino International Airport. What’s the best thing about working at an airport?
You get to see the planes land. That’s a cool experience. My dad worked at airports [at LAX and what was then known as Lindbergh Field in San Diego], and it makes me feel closer to him.