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

Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 02:55 pm
The social cost is more production for less man hours. This is on the whole, beneficial for society. This is a good thing. Nay, a GREAT thing.

I estimate that maybe $500/mo of my income is towards food. If automation could reduce those costs to $5 then I'd have to work a whole lot less to cover the cost of food. Think if housing was similar, or cars, or anything.
Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 03:04 pm
There is a basic denial of reality on this thread. Our economy is based on competition. There are winners and losers. People who refuse to accept the way that our economy works don't prosper.

Let's look at how economics works.

1. Companies that put "social costs" ahead of economic costs go out of business quickly, thanks to your desire to save money. When we buy airline tickets, most of us look primarily for the best price. We compare the airlines for the tickets we want (sure schedule and duration are important too), but generally we look for the airline that can save us $20 or $30.

That puts the airlines in a competition for your business to offer you the lowest cost fares. The easiest way to get your business is to cut labor costs.

This is the same when we buy hotels, or air conditioners, or socks. We hunt for the best bargains, and the companies that save us 50 cents on a pair of socks wins.

2. Companies interest in social issues are profit centered. When Amazon decides to raise the minimum wage, they are making a careful decision that the good press they get will be worth it to the bottom line. Sometimes it is to minimize negative press, sometimes it is to get consumer good will... but it is always with a carefully weighing of costs versus benefits.

3. This economic system works. ATMs have saved banks probably billions of dollars by putting hundreds of millions of human tellers (and counters) out of work. There are a few jobs that have been added to maintain, fill, and build the machines... but they provide huge savings in labor costs.

This has happened throughout human history. The textile mills put weavers by greatly reducing the amount of labor needed to produce clothing. The automobile put whole industries out of business. The current information age is getting rid of clerks, accountants, transcriptionists and warehouse workers.

And yet it works. Human productivity (the amount of work that can be done per worker) keeps going up. Progress keeps advancing.

4. Our economic system uses wealth to reward innovation and productivity. It works for us as a society.

Workers who don't accept the rules of the game are putting themselves at a disadvantage. Amazon obviously understands how economic works and they are prospering. Them sending warm fuzzies to Bernie Sanders is part of this... but don't think for a second that they aren't expecting this to help their bottom line.

Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 03:25 pm
maporsche wrote:

The social cost is more production for less man hours. This is on the whole, beneficial for society. This is a good thing. Nay, a GREAT thing.

I estimate that maybe $500/mo of my income is towards food. If automation could reduce those costs to $5 then I'd have to work a whole lot less to cover the cost of food. Think if housing was similar, or cars, or anything.

I agree with this.
Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 03:49 pm
I agree with this too... but there is a basic problem.

Let's say you start with 100 people making $13 and end with 50 people making $15/hour and a some automation that costs $500/hour to run and maintain.

Is this a win?

On one side 50 people got a $2/hour raise.
On the other side 50 people lost their job.
... and of course the business lowers their labor cost. And I am happy because part of the automation cost goes into my pocket.

These issues aren't as simple as some people pretend.
0 Replies
Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 04:20 pm
Is it Better to Be Feared or Loved?

Is it worth sacrificing short-term profit to win employee loyalty? The conventional business wisdom is now being turned on its head.

By Geoffrey JamesContributing editor, [email protected]_Source

Five hundred years ago, Niccolò Machiavelli famously said of leadership that "it is better to be feared than loved." If you look at the way companies have been run for the past few decades, it's clear that most business leaders are in agreement.

Back in the 1970s and earlier, corporations valued loyalty and saw it as an agreement that went both ways. The bellwether of good management practice was Thomas J. Watson of IBM, who promised lifetime employment in return for the fierce loyalty of the employees.

Then came the 1980s. Reengineering. Outsourcing. Offshoring. Downsizing. The notion that a corporate leader should be responsible for the well being of employees was thrown on the dung heap of history.

The new model for sound management was cut, cut, cut, cut, and then use the threat of future cuts to keep employees on their toes. As "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap put it: "You're not in business to be liked... If you want a friend, get a dog."

And so the business world has remained. But that may finally be changing.

World's most beloved CEO?
Last weekend, I saw something I'd never thought I'd see: workers on strike because they want their beloved CEO back.

Turns out that a hostile board of directors recently ousted the head of the Market Basket food market chain, Arthur T. Demoulas. In response, the workers launched a wildcat strike and organized a grassroots boycott.

When I drove past a local Market Basket a couple of days ago, I saw more than a dozen employees holding up hand-lettered cardboard signs: "Honk if You Want Artie T Back!"

Almost every passing car honked as the striking workers cheered and hooted. And the boycott seems to be working. The local Market Basket stores are almost empty of customers and employees alike.

Here's what Artie T did to inspire that kind of love and loyalty:

Pay a living wage. Though Market Basket (which is non-union, BTW) doesn't pay greatly more than other supermarket chains, it's on the high end of the scale.
Provide good benefits. Even part-time employees at Market Basket would usually get a Christmas bonus. The company even offered help with tuition.
Care about employees. When Artie T visited stores, he would ask about employees' families. He sometimes showed up at employees' weddings and funerals.
Value people as much as profit. Market Basket hasn't cut wages and closed stores in order to squeeze a bit more profit from the company.
Offer career growth. Market Basket established a way for line employees to grow into positions of more authority.
The value of love
From the perspective of the board of directors of Market Basket, Artie T's management style is a waste of money.

Instead, they're bringing in a management team that will almost undoubtedly implement conventional retail wisdom: Cut salaries, cut benefits, cut head count, close the stores that don't hit a profitability threshold, and so forth.

You know the routine. What's important is bottom-line, and if that means making your employees miserable and forcing them to need government assistance, well, that's tough.

After all, when it comes to management strategy, it's better to be feared than loved. After all, that's what the investors want, right?

Not so fast. What if conventional business wisdom has it wrong? What if investors would be better served by a management style that inspired loyalty rather than dread?

Turns out, that's the case. A recent study by Wharton professor Alex Edmans shows the stock prices of firms listed in "100 Best Companies to Work for in America" outperformed those of their more Machiavellian competitors.

You read that right. Treating your employees well is ultimately more profitable than squeezing them into misery. So maybe Arthur T. Demoulas--and the workers demanding his return--aren't a throwback at all.

Maybe, when it comes to business, it truly is better to be loved than feared.
0 Replies
Finn dAbuzz
Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 04:29 pm
There have always been and always will be "winners and losers"

Take humans out of the picture and life is a tale of winners and losers which no one but the "I like the bunny" crowd finds problematic

Insert humans back in and nothing changes.

Maybe, just maybe, technology will find a way to change this paradigm, but human preferences alone will not.
0 Replies
Reply Sun 14 Oct, 2018 10:37 pm
It appears to me that you believe that economics exists in a vacuum - that no other considerations come into it, and those that try to include other considerations, will fail.

You forget who essentially, makes the economy work - people. If there is no market (ie people), there is no economy. If there is no management (ie people), there is no economy. No matter the automation - the economy only functions if there are people involved. My view is that economics are about people, rather than people are about economics.

People exist in a way beneficial to economics, in the form of a society. Societies in cities exist, because of the benefits of centralised economics. Society shouldn't be there to be ruled by economics (though many people believe it is). Economics is a function part of society. Societal traits affect the economy, and economic traits affect society. It goes both ways.

Many believe that greed is good, and that by look after peoples self interest, the interest of the people will be looked after. The part after 'greed is good' is largely true...but the tying of 'greed is good' to the second part has created problems. It's created a growing divided between the rich and the poor, it's creating greater ghettos, is creating growing poverty cycles, it creating greater social friction. The cost isn't seen at the high end of town. It's seen at the low end. We aren't yet seeing the true extent of it in western countries - where there is still a sense of wealth and entitlement...but it is being felt in other, less developed nations. And it will eventually head this way.

I don't consider myself anti-corporation. I do consider myself to be against non-accountability, corruption, buying politicians, environmental rape, and corporate tax evasion. Much of this describes a large percentage of corporations.

However, this sort of debate really centres around ethics, rather than economics. The question always arises 'is it worth the cost'? For example, if fixing 'global warming' didn't cost anyone anything - would we even be arguing about it? I've asked this of many people against fixing it, and they give a confused stare before admitting 'No, they wouldn't be against fixing it'. Even your objection 'those that try to include social costs, fail' is in itself, a question about cost. Are the ethics worth the cost? There used to be systems in place that placed costs on things, but which have since been removed in a race to a 'free market'. It's not that they can't work, but that enough people don't want those systems to work anymore.
Reply Mon 15 Oct, 2018 09:10 am
Very well thought out post Vikkor. Thank you.

Many of the same people who are all about “saving the planet” for their children, are in part damning these same children and their children partly via Amazon by purchasing things they “have to have”. It is a self perpetuating cycle of having to work in order to get, so you have to work more to pay for what you got. So many people are so crazed and can’t recall a time when they were perfectly happy with an item that would just last a lifetime, or many years. They can’t remember being a kid and being happy playing with some spoons and cracked kitchen cups. Digging to China with those spoons. A jump rope. Now if a kid wants to play catch with a friend they both have to have helmets. Because as all us fogies remember, children died by the thousands every week because of getting hit in the head.

Marketing creates fear. Fear of being injured, when being injured is a normal part of life. Fear of not having that Keruig in your kitchen because your neighbor has one. Fear of not exercising your “right” every moment by filling up a hole in your life by buying stuff and telling yourself you need it, or well, you may not need it, but want it, and that’s become the same thing.

Economics exists to serve people, not the other way around. Imagine how fewer hours people would have to work if they didn’t cram many of the items from Amazon and other places into their lives.

0 Replies
Real Music
Reply Mon 15 Oct, 2018 02:07 pm

0 Replies
Reply Mon 15 Oct, 2018 07:07 pm
maxdancona wrote:

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.

I'm not talking about most employers, I'm talking about Amazon, and if what I have read and described here is true, then I'd say that our "laws and regulations protecting worker rights" leave something to be desired. Companies that treat their workers like dogs should be boycotted, and saying, "quit of you don't like it" sounds like some kind of robber baron from the turn of the century before workers unionized.
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Reply Mon 15 Oct, 2018 07:25 pm
If you don't like working for Amazon, they'll PAY you a bonus to quit.

Also, 95% tuition reimbursement seems pretty good.

Once per year, “The Offer” pays fulfillment employees what amounts to a bonus to quit. The newest employees can get $2,000, with the amount increasing with seniority and maxing out at $5,000. (Employees must accrue a year of service to take part.) The catch? Employees who accept pay-to-quit checks cannot ever work at Amazon again — another sign of how the 23-year-old eCommerce company puts a high premium on loyalty of all types.

Amazon inherited the program from Zappos, the online shoe retailer Amazon bought in 2009. Amazon did not detail how many employees took the payments and left warehouse work this year.

“Amazon employees who evaluate The Offer and then turn it down have decided they like the company enough to stay a little longer,” Ayres said in a recent article in The Atlantic. “They then want their future behavior to match that feeling.”

The pay-to-quit program is not the only way Amazon strives to boost loyalty among its employees. The company’s “Career Choice” program prepays 95 percent of tuition and textbook bills — up to $12,000 — for occupations such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technologies and nursing.
Finn dAbuzz
Reply Mon 15 Oct, 2018 08:42 pm
Can we assume you agree Bernie Sanders is a shameful opportunist then?

Attacking highly successful corporations is a great way to go after the envy vote.

Amazon very recently reported it's highest profit margin since the middle of 2016... A whopping 3.8%!

Compare this to Facebook's 45% and Apple's of over 30%

Exxon reported 5.5% in June 2018

The average return on equity for key industries from 2014 – 2016 shows that biopharma’s profits stand at 16.2%, significantly lower than Computer Sciences (31.6%), Beverages (27.4%), Aerospace/Defense (23.0%), and Trucking (19.1%) while modestly higher than Software System/Applications (15.2%) and Healthcare Support Services (14.4%).


Why would anyone invest in a company that can only turn a 3.8% profit?

My company had a 52% profit margin when I sold it. My clients were very happy with our services and obviously felt they were getting good value for money. They were all corporate entities, but it wouldn't have mattered if they were private citizens as long as they were satisfied with what they paid for.

Our "secret" was running a virtual company with very low expense. Employees were key to our success and we paid them above average industry wages and were generous in sharing profits through bonuses: 25% of profits.

In the entire time I owned the company, no employee we wanted to retain ever quit. I fired one and one quit just ahead of being fired.

Success is not that complicated. Excellence is valued. Great employees provide excellence. You get what you pay for.

Now, I will admit that it is more difficult when it comes to industries that don't have the luxury of finding a relatively small employee base, but they have to be "brutal" when it comes to employees who don't meet their performance standards. When managers feel sorry for poor performers, profits are lost.

If no one can meet performance standards there is a very real problem. When 10% or even 30% can't, that's the real world.
Reply Mon 15 Oct, 2018 08:54 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Can we assume you agree Bernie Sanders is a shameful opportunist then?

Sure. As much as any politician is almost all of the time.

Bernie has never been my #1 choice. I think he's been an ineffective senator and some of his ideas I think are bad for the country. The ideas that I'm inclined to like, he has no plan to actually implement.

I won't vote for him in the primaries. I'll look for any reason to vote for someone else.

If it's Bernie vs Trump, then that's not even a contest. Bernie will happily get my vote. I won't even have to hold my nose.
Finn dAbuzz
Reply Mon 15 Oct, 2018 09:04 pm
I hope you get to vote for Bernie
Reply Mon 15 Oct, 2018 09:06 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Just because you think Trump will beat him.
Reply Mon 15 Oct, 2018 09:09 pm
The rich get richer and the workers just get the shaft.

It's an eye opening on how many people feel that companies such as Amazon is a prime example how a business model should work. It's no secret the abuses in the workplace makes it one of the fastest turnover rate for workers. Amazon has been known for YEARS to be one of the worst companies to work for. Plenty of documentation, articles and personal accounts still doesn't make a difference.

The latest report is Jeff Bezos is worth $147.3 BILLION.
Reply Mon 15 Oct, 2018 09:16 pm
I don't trust a handful (or two) of personal accounts to speak for 560,000 employees.
Reply Mon 15 Oct, 2018 09:24 pm
There's thousands of reviews, articles and documentation to back that up.

Amazon pays employees to tweet about how much they like working inside fulfillment centers
BY TAYLOR SOPER on August 24, 2018 at 6:37 am

Cyber Monday 2016 at Amazon Fulfillment Center in Dupont, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
Amazon is using Twitter to combat negative public sentiment about the working conditions inside its warehouses.

As spotted by TechCrunch and The Guardian on Thursday, a small group of Amazon employees known as “FC ambassadors” — fulfillment center ambassadors — have created new Twitter accounts as a way to defend Amazon’s warehouse conditions and treatment of workers.

Amazon has been under the microscope for several years over the treatment of warehouse workers, both in the U.S. and abroad.

“This Social Media thing is a new gig and gives us a voice to tell what it’s like in our own bldg,” tweeted Phil, a warehouse worker from Kent, Wash.

The ambassadors are employees who have experience working at fulfillment centers. Each account has a similar Twitter bio — job title; fulfillment center location; length of employment at Amazon; personal interests — and all include a link to Amazon fulfillment center tours. The employees actively respond to negative tweets about Amazon, commenting on everything from wages to bathrooms to breaks.

Phil - Amazon FC Ambassador 📦
Replying to @gmndry
Hello! Cant comment on Walmart, but I work in an Amazn warehouse in WA and I have never felt like my safety and well being were not a top priorty for my managers. Building is clean and well lit and the benefits are really good.

12:01 PM - Aug 23, 2018
See Phil - Amazon FC Ambassador 📦's other Tweets
Twitter Ads info and privacy

Caleb - Amazon FC Ambassador 📦
Replying to @top10newsonline
Those definitely arent the conditions at my FC. I do a lot of jobs on the floor (replying to tweets is just another one of the jobs I do). Frankly though its not as hard as most people are making it to be. I dont ever see anyone overworked. Gotta say its a good way to be active.

1:37 PM - Aug 23, 2018
See Caleb - Amazon FC Ambassador 📦's other Tweets
Twitter Ads info and privacy

Kara - Amazon FC Ambassador 📦
Replying to @ExplorerRowan
Just my personal experience, no propaganda

1:30 AM - Aug 24, 2018
See Kara - Amazon FC Ambassador 📦's other Tweets
Twitter Ads info and privacy

Shauntrelle - Amazon FC Ambassador
Replying to @colourmeamused_

9:34 AM - Aug 24, 2018
See Shauntrelle - Amazon FC Ambassador's other Tweets
Twitter Ads info and privacy
My name is Sean-David Harris I’m from Cincinnati, OH
I’m a stow ambassador here at CMH1
I’m a pretty laid back guy until music is in the air!
When not working, I’m wrestling 2 dogs and dreaming of traveling.
Italy is my mission! But until then Olive Garden is life! pic.twitter.com/QM7LDZUmzv

— Sean – Amazon FC Ambassador 📦 (@AmazonFCSean) August 21, 2018

GeekWire reached out to Amazon about the new Twitter accounts and here’s a statement the company shared:

“FC ambassadors are employees who have experience working in our fulfilment centers. It’s important that we do a good job of educating people about the actual environment inside our fulfillment centers, and the FC ambassador program is a big part of that along with the fulfilment center tours we provide. Those tours enable thousands of customers every year to come and see for themselves what it’s like to work inside one of our fulfilment centers.”

Twitter users have already created parody accounts mocking the ambassadors, though some have already been suspended.

5.3 million Amazon reviews are fake, paid for by third-party sellers
May 8, 2018

Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Amazon is struggling to tamp down on fraudulent product ratings, BuzzFeed News reported, as sellers continue to find ways to plant incentivized reviews that help boost sales.

Because the e-commerce platform is so competitive, sellers will reportedly deploy a small army of people to write positive reviews for a product, then reimburse and compensate the reviewers in exchange for their time. One expert, who runs a site dedicated to analyzing Amazon listings, told BuzzFeed News that around 9 percent of the site's 250 million reviews, or around 5.3 million reviews, are "unnatural," and may be the product of disingenuous sellers looking to capitalize on a loophole.

Amazon doesn't allow these kinds of reviews and has banned sellers from giving away free items in exchange for reviews. As a workaround, BuzzFeed News explains, sellers instruct people to buy the items themselves, using verified accounts, then pay them back via PayPal or Amazon gift cards. Other platforms like Reddit and Slack allow users to facilitate these arrangements, describing what the seller needs in a review. For example, some sellers will send people to leave 1-star reviews on a competitor's products, which can appear less suspicious than flooding one product with 5-star reviews.

Sellers pay around $4 or $5 per review, and often let users keep the product, which many choose to resell for a profit on eBay. Small business owners who depend on Amazon for sales told BuzzFeed News that the practice can be debilitating, scooping up customers by padding their listings with verified purchases and positive reviews that smaller sellers can't afford or don't want to buy. Read more at BuzzFeed News. Summer Meza

Reply Mon 15 Oct, 2018 09:28 pm
I'm sure they'll go out of business soon since they suck so bad and no one will want to work for them.

We'll lose all of our postal workers who are on their feet all day too.
And our nurses who don't even get bottles to pee in.
And our mechanics and other laborers who have to use their muscles to do work.

All those jobs are doomed
Reply Mon 15 Oct, 2018 09:31 pm
Your sarcasm is noted.


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