11
   

“Amazon isn’t giving its employees a raise, they’re taking money from us,”

 
 
maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Sat 13 Oct, 2018 02:04 pm
@Brandon9000,
Quote:
There is no ethical excuse for treating employees like slaves. They should stop it, no matter what it takes.


There are three big differences between employees and slaves.

1) Employees receive a paycheck.
2) Employees have an employment contract that they agree to.
3) If Employees don't like their paycheck or their employment contract they are free to quit at any time.

It seems like in every way, Amazon is treating their employees like employees. This comparison to slavery minimizes the suffering of people under actual slavery.

Amazon does treat their robots like slaves... but that is another topic (I for one, want it noted that I supported the rights of robots long before the robot uprising).

chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Oct, 2018 03:06 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
[quote="Finn dAbuzz]

As for the title of this thread, the OP obviously has no idea of how free markets operate. Consumers flock to Amazon for low prices and then some of them bitch about how those low prices are achieved. If you want Amazon employees to be well paid and have great benefits then you need to be willing to spend more money on its products. But no, these idealists think that business owners should reduce their profits or lose money to make them feel good about getting really cheap goods.

Consumers don't have to buy on Amazon. If they do they are saying, "I don't really care how you get these products at these prices, I just want them."


[/quote]

Frankly, I never found products on Amazon all that cheap. The only reaso I occasionally buy certain products on there is because it’s something I can’t readily find in my area, and at the same time I’m going to spend enough to get free shipping. In fact, I’ve found a lot of items from Amazon to be a lot more expensive.

Honestly? I worked an assembly line job once where during an 8 hour shift you got two 15 minute breaks. Big deal. You clocked out, had a piss, ate something you brought from home, clocked back in. Time passed quickly because you were always moving, had to pay strict attention or else you could mess up the entire line. The thing I most remembered was that all the people on your line depended on each other, and there was a strong feeling of working as one.

Jobs like that wean out the lazy, and the whiners.

I’ve no opinion of the working conditions in the warehouses at Amazon. Except that you knew the policy on breaks and speed expectations when you were offered the job and accepted it.

If they are dangerous or something that’s one thing. If it’s that you’re expected to physically work hard, that’s another.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Oct, 2018 05:29 pm
@chai2,
I use Amazon for the same basic reason. Either I can't find what I want locally, or the clerks have no idea what I'm looking for. In fact, they often repeat what I say real slowly, like I'm the one that doesn't know what I'm talking about. Oh, it's been a long time since I've found good prices there.

For what it's worth, Farmington doesn't actually have a useful new book store.
Brandon9000
 
  2  
Reply Sat 13 Oct, 2018 06:29 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
There are three big differences between employees and slaves.

1) Employees receive a paycheck.
2) Employees have an employment contract that they agree to.
3) If Employees don't like their paycheck or their employment contract they are free to quit at any time.

It seems like in every way, Amazon is treating their employees like employees. This comparison to slavery minimizes the suffering of people under actual slavery.

Amazon does treat their robots like slaves... but that is another topic (I for one, want it noted that I supported the rights of robots long before the robot uprising).

I'd like to be sure that I understand you on one point. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but your position is that putting employees under so much pressure to perform that they are afraid to go to the bathroom or take more than 20 minutes for lunch is okay? And don't just tell me that they can quit if they want. My question is whether the workplace environment meets with your seal of approval.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Oct, 2018 08:09 pm
@Brandon9000,
I think a 20 minute lunch is fine. It’s shift work. It’s not like you make appointments during your work day. Now the bathroom thing could be an issue. Sometimes you just gotta go. Do you know if there is a system of tracking to see if an individual is taking advantage of bathroom breaks, or are you written up if it happens only once? Big difference. Are there people who say they need a bathroom break because they are really going for a smoke? Or to text?
Amazon or the like could set up porta potties around the floor for true emergency use. You’re not going to go into one to just hang out.

Shift work is that. You go in, work x hours, you go live your life. Ask any nurse on the floor if they feel they just go to the bathroom any time the urge hits.

In an office building I worked in, I would see the same smokers hanging around smoking to what I am positive added up to at least an hour a day, plus go out for an hour lunch. They were right outside my first floor window. I sometimes wondered why they got this preferential treatment. Are some of the Amazon people complaining about 20 lunches and short breaks really just wanting a smoke break?
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Oct, 2018 08:25 pm
@chai2,
Having been a nurse, I can attest to having to use the bathroom and not being able to for at least 60-90 minutes on many occasions. Oh, and what was lunch? Was that the 30min where I got interrupted 4 times and ended up eating my sandwich on my drive home?
neptuneblue
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Oct, 2018 08:30 pm
12 Hellish Things That Have To Happen In Order For Your Amazon Order To Arrive On Time
Phil Gibbons

Most Americans probably never even think about how Amazon ships packages so quickly. Working in an Amazon fulfillment center is a physically backbreaking, oppressive existence that quickly weeds out employees, most of whom receive a low hourly wage and part time assignments that eliminate Amazon's obligation to provide benefits or overtime.

Management constantly employs metric analytics and assigns deliberately unrealistic quotas, all in a cutthroat corporate environment that encourages a backstabbing culture and ultimately exhausts all but the most obsessively slavish survivors.

Working in an Amazon warehouse, generating billions for a tiny group of senior executives focused on abusively wringing every last penny from the majority of its workforce, is the dark side of one of America's most prominent 21st century corporate success stories.

1 Temperatures In Amazon Fulfillment Centers Have Reached 102 Degrees

Amazon warehouse workers are subjected to abusive conditions, including temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. In one notorious incident in June, 2011, Allentown, PA, workers experienced temperatures of 102 degrees. Fifteen employees collapsed and, despite the heat, were given disciplinary point deductions that potentially lead to dismissal.

Eight days after the Allentown incident, an emergency room doctor treated so many Amazon employees for heat-related symptoms he contacted OSHA, the federal agency that regulates working conditions. Amazon was aware of the conditions and even paid to have ambulances stationed near the warehouses to transport heat victims to a hospital if necessary.

2 Amazon Cheats Workers Out Of Mandatory Break Time

In addition to its security measures and issues with unpaid time at the beginning and end of shifts, Amazon has been sued over lunch breaks. Because workers must complete all tasks before they can clock out for lunch, 30 minute breaks are frequently shortened substantially. What's more, workers must spend part of their break traversing lengthy distances to punch out in a facility that could be as large as ten football fields.

Lunch breaks are routinely interrupted by supervisors giving reprimands and assigning "demerit" points. In the year 2014 alone, 10 class action lawsuits were pursued concerning these business practices.

3 Warehouse Work Is Physically Abusive And Frequently Causes Pain And Even Injury

Workers who do not meet goals during shifts are harassed by managers, reprimanded about productivity, and routinely threatened with termination. When an employee suffers an injury, she is pressured by management to attribute the incident to a pre-existing condition that will not be counted in reports to OSHA, the federal agency that regulates industrial working conditions.

Amazon also attempts to prevent workers from receiving treatment from external doctor, preferring to treat medical issues and injuries with in-house medical staff, in an attempt to minimize official reporting of work-related injuries. One Amazon worker had this to say about his employment at the company:

"I never felt like passing out in a warehouse and I never felt treated like a piece of crap in any other warehouse but this one."

4 Workers Describe Amazon As 'Soul Crushing'; Conditions Were So Demoralizing, A White Collar Employee Attempted Suicide

An oppressive work environment at Amazon is not limited to its warehouse operation. As of May 2014, the average tenure of all employees was fourteen months. Confidential accounts from individuals who worked in white collar capacities described the company culture as "soul crushing" and "the single-worst working experience in my 20 year career."

After being denied a transfer to another department and told instead he would be placed in a precarious "employee improvement plan," one employee distributed a critical company-wide email and attempted suicide by jumping out of a 12 story window. Although he survived, the incident called further attention to what the New York Times described as Amazon's "bruising workplace."

5 Prime Now Delivery Drivers Are Royally Screwed, And Subsidize Amazon From Their Own Pockets

Amazon promises rapid delivery with its Amazon Prime Now service, which delivers many items on a one-to-two hour basis in some areas. Only weeks after the service was rolled out in Southern California, delivery drivers filed a lawsuit alleging they were not being paid California's mandatory minimum wage of $9 an hour.

How did Amazon get away with this practice? Drivers were hired by a temp agency, as independent contractors. The temp agency mandated delivery drivers provide their own vehicles and pay for fuel. When these costs were factored in, workers were not being paid minimum wage. Hours worked in excess of the standard eight-hour daily shift weren't paid at the required time-and-a-half overtime rate. Since this service is essentially free to Prime customers, workers subsidized Amazon's business model out of their own pockets.

What's more, Amazon wasn't responsible for obligations concerning payroll taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, and worker compensation claims.

6 Amazon Successfully Avoided Paying Employees To Pass Through A Lengthy Security Check

In 2013, former Amazon workers sued to force the company to pay for time spent in lengthy security checks before and after shifts, and before clocking out for lunch breaks. Although lower courts sided with the employees, eventually, in 2014, the US Supreme Court overruled the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and ruled in favor of Amazon, dismissing the lawsuit. Workers claimed each security check would last from 10 to 20 minutes, a process that would occur without compensation, requiring each worker to be at work for 30 minutes to an hour in addition to each shift, without pay for that extra time.

7 Employees Are Attached To Satellite Navigation Devices That Track Them On A Minute-By-Minute Basis

Amazon attaches satellite navigation devices that track employees and prompt them to take the shortest route to the proper stock item. The device also times the employee, and analyzes performance on a minute-by-minute basis. If an employee fails to meet time goals, she is warned during her shift, and if she is habitually unable to meet goals, she will be fired.

Goals would typically be 1,200 items in a ten hour shift, or one item every thirty seconds. This in a warehouse that typically required 13-15 miles of walking per shift. The longer an employee works, the higher the hourly quota became. The vast majority of workers don't last long.

8 Part-Time Workers Earn Approximately $12.50 An Hour

What are workers paid to endure ten-hour shifts that require walking as many as 13 miles, chaotic warehouse space that's difficult to navigate, and abusive management intent on firing employees as quickly as possible? About $12.50 an hour.

If you clock in over four minutes late for your shift, you will be docked 30 minutes from earned vacation or, if vacation has not been earned, directly from your paycheck. If you were unable to clock in for your shift, which is not unlikely, considering the distances and wait times for passage through security before a shift begins, you could be docked as much as 52 minutes in wage time after working an hour.

As of 2017, Amazon is fighting employee class action law suits over this practice.

9 The Company Deceives Temporary Workers Into Thinking They Will Be Hired Permanently

Many temporary Amazon workers are told, when hired, that, if they work hard, they will be offered a permanent position with higher benefits and pay. However, quotas are increased to unattainable levels, resulting in dismissal, injury, or the employee quitting. Turnover results in most new temporary hires only lasting a few months, and a temporary employee is only rarely hired permanently.

A policy of relying on mostly temporary employees allows Amazon to keep a fully staffed facility without having to pay high wages and provide benefits.

10 Amazon Masks Awful Employment Practices Behind Temp Agencies

Technically, Amazon does not hire the workers in its warehouses. Instead, temporary staffing agencies with names like Integrity Staffing Solutions handle the process of interviewing and hiring workers in Amazon's distribution centers. This is a method by which Amazon insulates itself from issues involving unemployment insurance and worker compensation; officially, the temps don't work for Amazon, they work for the temp agency. This also is a barrier to any attempt by unions to officially organize Amazon; turnover is so frequent unionizing is impossible.

11 Part Time Workers Receive Demerits That Can Eventually Prompt Their Dismissal

Amazon has an official point system that can earn an employee demerit points for various offenses or deficiencies. Bad behavior includes arriving to work late by a minute (0.5 demerit points), by an hour (one point), or missing a shift (1.5 points). Six points result in termination. Any demerits result in "counseling."

Demerits can also be earned if workers fail to adhere to quotas that are raised arbitrarily, and used to weed out most workers within a short period of time.

12 Your Order Is Packed At A Gigantic Regional Fulfillment Center

An Amazon package is shipped from one of the company's regional fulfillment centers. These gigantic warehouses can cover more than a million square feet, and be as long as 28 football fields. Unfortunately, for the employees involved in packing and shipping Amazon orders, much of the work requires retrieval of items from all over such warehouses. Employees will be asked to walk as much as a quarter of a mile to retrieve items, while meeting time quotas (120 items packed per hour, in some cases) to ensure material is shipped as quickly as possible.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Oct, 2018 08:34 pm
@maporsche,
Yep. I worked with nurses most of my professional life. They have more bladder control than anyone I know.

I also always found all conversations over food highly interesting and entertaining. I personally consider bedsores, fecal impactions and lung excretions normal and appropriate lunch conversation.

You do that at Amazon during your 20 minute lunch, they’ll look at ya funny.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Oct, 2018 09:57 pm
@Brandon9000,
You are wrong. That is not my position.

Slavery was a barbaric practice where people were subject to violence and forced to work with no rights and no ability to leave. It is very wrong to compare slaves with employees, slaves weren't employees.

That doesn't mean that workplace pressure or limited bathroom or lunch breaks are acceptable. But it isn't slavery.

maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Oct, 2018 10:04 pm
@neptuneblue,
Quote:
Amazon attaches satellite navigation devices that track employees and prompt them to take the shortest route to the proper stock item. The device also times the employee, and analyzes performance on a minute-by-minute basis. If an employee fails to meet time goals, she is warned during her shift, and if she is habitually unable to meet goals, she will be fired.

Goals would typically be 1,200 items in a ten hour shift, or one item every thirty seconds. This in a warehouse that typically required 13-15 miles of walking per shift. The longer an employee works, the higher the hourly quota became. The vast majority of workers don't last long.


I worked on this software! (Not for Amazon, but for other warehouses). It is pretty cool, and it got positive feedback from warehouse workers.

We wrote software that ran on computers that the workers wore on armbands. The software was voice activated, and would direct workers on the shortest route to pick all of the items on the pick list. And it would tell workers how much time was left for the order.

You can make anything sound bad, but this software increases productivity and minimized the amount of walking that warehouse pickers have to do. The warehouse workers didn't seem pressured, in fact they were incentivized. Workers who exceeded productivity goals got a bonus (also part of the software).

All companies are working hard to make warehouses productive. If a company adds more than 2 or 3 cents to the process of picking, it will not just hurt profits, it will put the company at risk.

If you shop at any big company, Walmart, Target, Sears, Amazon/ Whole Foods, Starbucks... they are doing the same things. They have to, or they will lose your business.



neptuneblue
 
  -2  
Reply Sat 13 Oct, 2018 10:24 pm
@maxdancona,
That's nice for you Max.

Somehow I don't think the majority of the warehouse workers share that sentiment when they continually get docked for not meeting excessive quotas.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Oct, 2018 11:03 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
You are wrong. That is not my position.

Slavery was a barbaric practice where people were subject to violence and forced to work with no rights and no ability to leave. It is very wrong to compare slaves with employees, slaves weren't employees.

That doesn't mean that workplace pressure or limited bathroom or lunch breaks are acceptable. But it isn't slavery.

It isn't slavery, but it also isn't a decent way for people to treat other people. From what I've read, the pressure on the workers to perform and meet goals is immense, thus, you get someone urinating into a bottle because he isn't willing to take the hit for spending the time to go to the bathroom. Yes, theoretically people can quit, but most people are afraid that if they lose their job, they may be out of work for a while and sometimes they are. Now, with unemployment almost at zero, maybe you really can lose a job one day and have a new one the next day, but that hasn't traditionally been the case, and I think most people are still worried about what will happen to them if they do lose their job.

People making billions of dollars from a company could at least treat their workers with common decency. Every business owner should treat the workers with common decency. Companies that treat their workers like dogs should be boycotted, and perhaps even picketed by people with signs until they're shamed into behaving the way any decent person would behave to begin with.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 10:07 am
@Brandon9000,
Quote:
It isn't slavery, but it also isn't a decent way for people to treat other people. From what I've read, the pressure on the workers to perform and meet goals is immense, thus, you get someone urinating into a bottle because he isn't willing to take the hit for spending the time to go to the bathroom.


I agree with this. The only question I would ask is whether what you are reading is representative of most employers, or if you are getting an exaggerated view from people with a political agenda.

Our system has two ways of protecting workers against this type of abuse...

1) We have laws and regulations protecting worker rights.
2) Workers can leave for a better environment (whether you say it is difficult or not). This is the way our economy works.

Companies have pressure to increase productivity and cut costs... I hope that companies realize that treating employees better leads to better productivity, but companies can not support employees who do not perform. If an employee isn't meeting basic standards, you have to fire them. Companies are business... that is how it works.

I personally think that providing quotas with incentives for higher performance makes a lot of sense. It means you can work to better your income by figuring out how to work more productively. It is a win-win situation.



neptuneblue
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 10:13 am
Bernie Sanders called out Jeff Bezos for poor treatment of Amazon workers. In a rare move, the company fired back.
Amazon says Sanders’s allegations of low wages and indecent work conditions are “inaccurate and misleading.”
By Chavie [email protected]@Vox.com Aug 30, 2018, 11:20am EDT

Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, is the richest man in the world and controls one of the internet’s most powerful shopping destination. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is an outspoken advocate for America’s working class and has spent much of his political career campaigning for the restructuring of the country’s financial and corporate system.

And so it seems fitting that Bezos and Sanders are now locked in a battle over workers’ rights.

Sanders has repeatedly spoken out against Amazon, and last week, he sent out an email to his supporters asking them to join forces against Amazon, which he accused of paying its workers poor wages while its CEO and founder amasses unprecedented wealth. The email accused Amazon of engaging in “greed which seems to have no end” and encouraged readers to sign a petition that would impel Bezos to improve work conditions and increase wages.

The petition has received 120,000 signatures and garnered plenty of support across social media. Sanders also requested to hear from Amazon workers who have “used public assistance, such as food stamps, Medicaid or subsidized housing, in order to make ends meet.”

In a rare move from a company that seldom responds to complaints, Amazon fired back Wednesday, calling Sanders’s allegations “inaccurate and misleading.” Amazon accused Sanders of purposely seeking out negative stories, and insisted that it’s doing plenty for its workers.

Its response is a signal that while Amazon would probably prefer to remain silent when it comes to worker treatment and income inequality, those conversations have become more and more difficult to ignore — in part due to Sanders and the rising socialist wave he represents.

While Bezos is staggeringly wealthy, his employees are not
In 2017, Amazon reported nearly $178 billion in revenue. This success helped Bezos earn his title as the richest man of all time. According to Forbes, his net worth is $165.2 billion.

Amazon employs about 566,000 people around the world. That number does not include the independent contractors and third-party workers that help it operate, like drivers with Amazon Flex, who are not technically employees but are paid to deliver Amazon packages with their own cars. The company is often celebrated as a major source of employment opportunities, especially in its hometown of Seattle, where 40,000 people work for Amazon.

But Amazon has been followed for years by negative reports regarding workplace conditions and worker treatment. From reports about poor air conditioning to timed bathroom breaks to constant video surveillance, the list runs long. As Seth King, a former Amazon warehouse worker, told Vox in July 2018, Amazon’s work conditions are “grueling” and “depressing.”

“You spend 10 hours on foot, there’s no windows in the place, and you’re not allowed to talk to people — there’s no interactions allowed,” he said. “I got a sense in no time at all that they work people to death, or until they get too tired to keep working. After two months, I felt I couldn’t work there and maintain a healthy state of mind.”

Last year, only a few months after Amazon dropped $13.4 billion to buy the upscale grocery chain Whole Foods, data found that one in three Amazon employees living in Arizona must rely on food stamps because they do not earn a living wage.

In addition to immense wealth, Amazon also has plenty of muscle to flex. It’s had states bending over backward, offering tax deductions in order to court the e-commerce giant as it searches for a home for its second headquarters. In June, only a few weeks after Seattle passed a tax that would make big companies like Amazon pay extra to fund affordable housing and programs for the homeless, Amazon helped get the tax repealed.

Sanders takes issue with Amazon’s employment practices, and Bezos’s wealth In the email sent out to supporters Wednesday, August 22, with the subject line “Jeff Bezos,” Sanders pointed out this discrepancy.

“I want to ask you to clear your mind for a moment and count to 10,” the email read. “In those 10 seconds, Jeff Bezos, the owner and founder of Amazon, made more money than the median employee of Amazon makes in an entire year. An entire year. Think about that.”

The senator wrote about how the issue of Amazon employees relying on tax-funded programs is a national one.

“Thousands of Amazon employees are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing because their wages are too low. And guess who pays for that? You do,” he wrote. “Frankly, I don’t believe that ordinary Americans should be subsidizing the wealthiest person in the world because he pays his employees inadequate wages.”

Amazon isn’t the only large American company Sanders has come after. He recently focused his attention on Disney, working with the Disneyland Resort union to advocate for the company to raise its wages for workers inside its parks. In July, Disney agreed to raise its wages from $11 to $15 over the next two years.

Sanders has spoken about Bezos’s wealth and his treatment of employees in the past. On Amazon Prime Day, he organized a town hall meeting in Washington, DC, where he invited King, the former Amazon warehouse worker, as well as workers from Disney, McDonald’s, American Airlines, and Walmart, to talk about their employers.

Amazon workers in Europe were striking on Prime Day to illustrate these exact issues, and at the time, Sanders told Vox that he hoped Bezos “will explain why he thinks it’s acceptable that he makes hundreds of millions of dollars a day while Amazon employees are grossly underpaid and forced to rely on government programs to survive.”

In the email sent to supporters on August 22, Sanders also took issue with the fact that Bezos intends to spend his wealth on a pet project: space travel through Blue Origin, his secretive aerospace company that he’s called his “most important work.”

“Well here is a radical idea: Instead of attempting to explore Mars or go to the moon, how about Jeff Bezos pays his workers a living wage? How about he improves the working conditions at Amazon warehouses across the country so people stop dying on the job?” the email read. “He can no doubt do that and have billions of dollars left over to spend on anything he wants.”

Amazon responded by showing off its muscles
Amazon rarely responds to criticism. President Trump has called out the company — and Bezos — multiple times on Twitter, tweeting about its questionable tax practices, as well as its usage of the United States Postal Service, and yet Amazon has never responded.

The uproar Sanders has created is clearly striking a nerve, though. In a blog post published Wednesday, Amazon accused Sanders of continuing to “spread misleading statements about pay and benefits.”

For example, the company says that Sanders’s characterization of its employees who are on food stamps is inaccurate, as the workers in question chose to work on a part-time schedule, which automatically qualifies them for SNAP benefits. It also points out that Amazon created 130,000 new jobs over the past year, with salaries commensurate with the average hourly wage in retail — and challenges “anyone to compare our pay and benefits to other retailers.”

The response notes its “climate controlled, safe workplace” and says its employee benefits include “health insurance, disability insurance, retirement savings plans, and company stock.” Amazon also wrote about additional perks it offers, like 20 weeks of paid leave for parents, as well as a program that covers the cost of tuition, textbooks, and school fees for 16,000 employees.

Amazon is also inviting people to take tours of its fulfillment centers; the invitation comes right on the heels of the company trying to orchestrate a PR campaign.

Fourteen Twitter accounts identifying themselves as Amazon fulfillment center workers suddenly appeared last week and have been openly lauding Amazon’s employee treatment. The FC ambassadors, as Amazon calls them, share how they receive bathroom breaks, sit in tolerant temperatures, and work under pleasant management.

No food stamps needed for this Amazonian!

— Phil - Amazon FC Ambassador (@AmazonFCPhil) August 10, 2018
In the US average full-time associates earn more than $15/hr' with full benefits from day one on a 40 hr work week. I feel happy with my job and am looking forward to space vacations ‍

— Adam - Amazon FC Ambassador (@AmazonFCAdam) August 18, 2018
While it initially seemed to be a grassroots movement, a reporter for Yahoo found that while FC ambassadors volunteer to tweet, they are also being rewarded with Amazon gift cards and an extra day off.

Amazon won’t address the Bezos wealth issue, and it probably can’t
Even with Amazon calling out Sanders so publicly, the senator is not budging on the issues he’s raising, and says the company’s response is not adequate. A few hours after Amazon published its blog post, Sanders responded to the e-commerce giant that he was looking forward to visiting a fulfillment center in September, and that regardless, he’ll be asking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate the work conditions at Amazon warehouses.

Amazon is remaining decidedly mum about anything pertaining to Bezos, and doesn’t even mention its CEO in its defensive blog post addressed to Sanders — even though Sanders has called out Bezos out by name many times and takes issue specifically with the discrepancy between his wealth and the wages of his employees.

It’s a typical strategy straight out of Amazon’s playbook, probably because the only way to address a controversy of this size is to not address it at all.

The fact that the company is taking issue with statements from Sanders speaks to its awareness that some people view Amazon as the epitome of income inequality — a topic that Sanders himself has helped bring to the surface. The belief that capitalism is a broken system, and that giant corporations only feed the problem, was once relegated to the relative fringes of public conversation. But it was brought to the forefront of American discussion during Sanders’s presidential bid in 2016. The senator is still on this crusade, and he’s also galvanized an entire new crop of leaders who follow in his footsteps, like New York Democratic House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Amazon’s position at the center of this discussion is clearly a narrative it wants to counter, and silence is no longer an option. Once a small shopping site operating out of a garage in Seattle, Amazon is now slated to account for 50 percent of American e-commerce sales by 2019. As it reigns, it can’t ignore glaring inconsistencies, like how it easily earns billions while its workers complain of not being able to earn a decent living. And whether or not Amazon wants to address it, this conversation about inequality inevitably will involve Bezos — if not for the fact that his wealth will only continue to grow, then because he is now a public, global figure who is under constant scrutiny.

As for accounts of employee treatment, they are rolling in to Sanders, and they are grueling. One former worker from Fort Worth, Texas, wrote how he “was homeless sleeping in the parking lot after I no longer could afford rent.” Another worker from Harrisburg, North Carolina, told Sanders that “it felt worse than being in jail some days. There is so much more to the story and if had the money and resources I would have sued them.”
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 10:34 am
@roger,
Whether it is price, convenience or variety, Amazon consumers have a reason for shopping there. If Amazon believes it's employment practices are necessary to meet these reasons, well there you go. The reason doesn't change the calculus.

If someone believes these allegations and finds them offensive, they can register their displeasure by refusing to shop at Amazon. That will be a far more effective response than urging the government to step in so they can have their cake and eat it too.

And the point that this, in no way, approximates slavery is an important one. Amazon employees can always quit. Slaves cannot. They can file civil suits and also try to organize Amazon labor. It won't be easy, but the point is they have options.

I think Bezos is a cynical fraud (politically), but he has created a business that benefits a great many people. It has made him a billionaire. Good for him. If he has responded to the criticism by raising the minimum wage of his employees, it seems absurd to fault him for it. If anyone thinks that a centrally controlled economy would provide consumers with whatever it is they like about Amazon, they are nuts.

0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 11:10 am
For what it is worth...

Bernie Sanders has praise Amazon's wage increase (Neptune's articles are from before the increase).
0 Replies
 
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 01:25 pm
I don't automatically fault companies for not paying more than they have to for labor.

Almost every industry is uber-competitive and it's difficult for one store/company (especially publicly owned ones, with share holders to respond to) to do something that their competitors have not done. If a company can do this and chooses to, then of course I view that as a good thing. But not every company will...at least not unless the have to.

Which is why I think people like Bernie Sanders and his compatriots in government (federal and/or local) should make the minimum wage changes into law, and hopefully, finally, peg them to inflation.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 01:29 pm
@maporsche,
The minimum wage is good for my business...

We are replacing human workers with artificial intelligence. The higher the cost of labor, the more attractive our products become. When we sell artificial intelligence to corporations the sales pitch is, we can save you tens of millions of dollars in labor cost. When labor cost is cheap that is a more difficult business case to make; we sell less and have to reduce our profits.

I fully support the minimum wage... just out of self interest.
vikorr
 
  2  
Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 02:31 pm
@maxdancona,
I presume you are only talking about what is good for business, and not the social cost.
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 02:42 pm
@vikorr,
vikorr wrote:

I presume you are only talking about what is good for business, and not the social cost.


Yes. That is how our economic system works. If horses could vote, we wouldn't have cars.
0 Replies
 
 

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