Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Why Is Amazon Abusing Its Workers?





 Why Is Amazon Abusing Its Workers?

by C.A. Matthews

Why is Amazon abusing its workers?

The company isn’t exactly hard-up. It’s the most profitable firm in America. Its executive chairman and largest shareholder, Jeff Bezos, is the richest man in the world, holding more wealth than the bottom 39 percent of Americans put together.

Amazon is abusing workers because it can.  --Robert Reich, Bessemer and the Power Shift

The original title of this piece was going to be Peeing in Bottles. This past week Amazon made the mistake of trying to Tweet its way out of the allegations that Amazon workers were forced to pee in bottles during work hours in order to keep up the inhuman pace set by management. They implied that workers were exaggerating and that nothing abusive had ever happened in an Amazon warehouse. 

It backfired big-time. (Amazon stock even dropped!) More and more sympathize with and support the Amazon warehouse workers in their attempt to organize and start the first union at an American Amazon facility. Nobody likes a bullying billionaire, after all. 

But why did it have to come to this? Why couldn't Amazon cooperate and listen to the workers' demands? There's only one reason and Robert Reich is right: Amazon abuses its workers because it can. 

Amazon's owner Jeff Bezos knows he can get away with it. A government that won't enact a decent minimum wage or give its citizens universal health care that isn't connected to their employment isn't exactly demonstrating that it cares for those who are being abused by a billionaire monopolist. A government that allows a fast food corporation to crush the measly attempt at a living wage--$15 per hour--isn't exactly proving that "promoting the general welfare" is very high on its list.

The mistreatment of workers is nothing new at Amazon. From an article published in 2019:

Amazon’s cutting-edge technology, unrelenting surveillance and constant disciplinary write-ups pushed the Eastvale workers so hard that in the last holiday season, they hit a coveted target: They got a million packages out the door in 24 hours. Amazon handed out T-shirts celebrating their induction into the “Million Unit Club.”

But Dixon, 54, wasn’t around for that. She started the job in April 2018, and within two months, or nearly 100,000 items, the lifting had destroyed her back. An Amazon-approved doctor said she had bulging discs and diagnosed her with a back sprain, joint inflammation and chronic pain, determining that her injuries were 100% due to her job. She could no longer work at Amazon. Today, she can barely climb stairs. Walking her dog, doing the dishes, getting out of her chair – everything is painful. According to her medical records, her condition is unlikely to improve. --Will Evans, Behind The Smiles

Amazon (and other companies) leave many disabled workers in their wake. You'd think with the bad press, all Amazon workers would gladly join a union and organize like hell for better working conditions. But believe it or not, they all won't. Decades of anti-union propaganda has taken its toll on American workers according to Daniel Medina:

 ...the organizing effort has been largely led by older workers, many of whom worked in union jobs before coming to Amazon. And many younger BHM1 workers have never interacted with a union over the course of their working lives and may have little understanding of the role a union has traditionally played in the workplace — a consequence, labor experts say, of a decade's long assault on organized labor in the Deep South. --Daniel A. Medina, Some Younger Amazon Workers Still Undecided

So, what really could happen if American Amazon workers aren't allowed to organize? Our history paints a grim picture:

On this day (March 26) 110 years ago, 146 garment workers, including 123 mostly young immigrant women, died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in lower Manhattan. Many of these women were forced to jumped from several stories to the pavement below because the intensely anti-union sweat shop owners had insisted on keeping exits locked and only one of four elevators were operating. 

These women were paid $15 a week and worked at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week. The owners of the sweatshop were outliers, who refused to acquiesce to the workers' demands that were made during the city-wide strike by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union for better pay and a more humane work schedule. --Bob Henelly, 110 Years Since the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, Its Lessons Are Still Unlearned

It's time we learned from history and from the current workers forced to work under inhumane conditions at Amazon warehouses and elsewhere, It's time for everyone to support union organizing. The job--the life--you save may well be your own.


Related Articles:

Documents Show Amazon Is Aware Drivers Pee in Bottles ... https://theintercept.com/2021/03/25/amazon-drivers-pee-bottles-union/

Bessemer and the Power Shift https://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/68500-bessemer-and-the-power-shift

Behind The Smiles: Amazon's Internal Injury Records Expose the True Toll of its Relentless Drive For Speed https://revealnews.org/article/behind-the-smiles/ 

Some Younger Amazon Workers in Bessamer, New to Unions, Still Undecided  https://theintercept.com/2021/03/23/amazon-union-bessamer-bernie-sanders/ 

Bernie Sanders Leads Delegation to Alabama to Boost Amazon Union Drive  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/26/bernie-sanders-bessemer-alabama-amazon-workers-union-fight 

110 Years Since the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, Its Lessons Are Still Unlearned https://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/68518-focus-110-years-since-the-triangle-shirtwaist-fire-its-lessons-are-still-unlearned

Amazon's PR Flacks Are Starting to Sweat https://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/68542-amazons-pr-flacks-are-starting-to-sweat

Fast Food Giant Claims Credit For Killing $15 Minimum Wage https://www.dailyposter.com/p/fast-food-giant-claims-credit-for


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Low-income folks should be able to access abortion.

Representative Barbara Lee, along with Representatives Diana DeGette, Jan Schakowsky, and Ayanna Pressley have introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act. EACH is bold federal legislation that aims to get rid of the Hyde Amendment and related abortion coverage restrictions in health care plans.

For more than 40 years, the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds for abortions, has created barriers to accessing abortion care that disproportionately affect low-income and women of color. Not only women are affected by this, but trans men and nonbinary folks are also affected by the Hyde Amendment which has effectively stripped healthcare from those who would otherwise have it.

EACH ensures that individuals who receive health insurance through plans like Medicaid or will be covered for their abortion care and we need your help. 



The more cosponsors we gain on this important legislation, the closer we get to getting the bill marked up and to the congressional floor. That’s why we need you to email your legislators and tell them to cosponsor EACH, and if they’re already a cosponsor tell them to ask a colleague to join as a co-sponsor as well!

Together, we can work to end the Hyde Amendment and become one step closer to a world where Reproductive Justice is a reality, let’s work to get EACH cosponsored.

URGE is proud to have worked with our friends at All* Above All and other reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations and advocates to reintroduce this historic legislation.

In Solidarity,

           Monica (She/Her)


Families Belong Together (Logo)

We've all seen the screaming headlines about the border this week, but let me be the first to tell you: they're missing the point. 

What's missing from the story is the fact that our collective humanity is at stake. This is about how we as a nation are going to treat children and families

These are mothers and fathers who like any parent would move heaven and earth for their children. They've fled horrific violence, abject poverty, and climate disasters. 

Are we really going to slam the door on families who had no other option but to run for their lives? On kids who had no choice but to come here alone? 

What's happening at the border didn't happen overnight--and it's certainly not a political football to be thrown around when lives are at stake. 

Because you've stood with Families Belong Together from the beginning, I know you care just as much as I do about protecting children and how we as a nation live up to our values. I know that time and time again you've shown up to support our dedicated activists, case workers, attorneys, and coalition of partners who are working 24/7 to keep children out of detention, avoid cruel deportations, reunite families, and welcome children with dignity. 

The only thing that matters right now is that children are at our doorstep. 

We've mobilized and are working directly with our partners on the ground to push back on the racist, dehumanizing rhetoric that leaves humanity out of the story. 

Here are three ways you can help us today: 

  1. Pledge your frequent flyer miles, credit card points, or cash to help book flights for migrant families seeking safety. 
  2. Take our pledge to join the movement for family dignity and we'll reach out to you with invitations to our volunteer training.
  3. Donate today to reunify refugee families, provide legal services, and supply necessities for families and children at the border.

Join us,

Paola Luisi, Director 
Families Belong Together


  1. Bezos and his entire board should stand trial for human rights abuse.

  2. The chance of any billionaire oligarch standing trial is slim to none, and Bezos realizes this. Why Amazon can't simply allow its workers to organize and have actual bathroom breaks, etc., is just indicative to how sadistic Bezos and his capitalist kind really are. How anyone can admire these monsters is beyond me!


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