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Amazon raises overtime pay for warehouse workers (reuters.com)
265 points by hhs 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 226 comments

If Amazon wanted to win immediate trust and lasting goodwill, they should secure suppliers for "Amazon's choice" cotton surgical masks, providing priority service to hospital systems in regions of need, but also (publicly), their own warehouse and delivery workforce. They have the leverage, analytics, and supply chain to make it happen.

Edit: We need to provide enough masks so that people don't feel like they are depriving the hospital system. Also, we need more corporations in America to step up and set an example, protecting their workers and customers. People should stay home, but when they have to venture out (or are needed for work), they should be wearing masks!

Why are we paying almost a trillion dollar in taxes if the government can’t get its shit together and we have to rely on mega corporations.

When looking at Wuhan news, everyone is wearing a mask. How did they make that happen for millions of people. Singapore mailed 4 masks per household. South Korea nearly tested every citizen.

Sure China is an authoritarian government but we can’t deny it can do manufacturing and logistical wonders.

The corporate greed and govt incompetence clearly shows when COVID-19 hit us (usa). It will dip our economy way harder than it will hit China.

Could someone share if China is also doing massive stimulus and billions of dollar bailouts?

We are blowing it all on the stupid military when we could have been spending it on cutting edge medical research. We spend trillions blowing stuff up instead of spending trillions searching for ways to improve our health and lives.

This government is run by people that believe mega corporations should pay no tax[1], under the impression that the mega corporations are better suited to fulfill the needs of society.

Will this philosophy survive a pandemic?

1. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/16/these-91-fortune-500-compani...

This is what government is for...

WTF are we spending all this money for military, which has their own suppliers, logistics etc if they can't help us.

Additionally our intelligence agencies should have been "blowing the whistle" when Trump downplayed the issue for 2 months.

It's all conjecture for now, but I consider this a huge failing of the IC. Makes you wonder what they're actually focused on if it isn't protecting the American public.

EDIT: Maybe the more likely answer is politician(s) didn't listen.

I don’t wonder, because their actions have been making “the American public” less safe and more surveilled for decades. They are after the same thing all military intelligence services are after: power and control.

I'm pretty sure cotton masks offer little to no protection. What you need is a n95 respirator.

What hospitals need are N95 respirators and surgical masks. A family member of mine is a doctor at a large hospital system. They have a mask shortage and have been encouraged to use scarves and t-shirts if necessary. Plain cotton masks would offer considerable benefits if everybody began wearing them in public. Countries in Asia, where it is common for everyone to wear masks have a lower R0 value.

> Plain cotton masks would offer considerable benefits if everybody began wearing them in public

This goes against the current WHO recommendation

> If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.

Their guidance does not seem to suggest that people should not wear masks in public, nor does it comment on the effectiveness of doing so.

From their site:

  If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.
  Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

The "masks don't help" campaign is well-intended disinformation aimed at preserving medical masks for medical practitioners.

It is now proven that people with no symptoms spread the virus. Breathing virus into a cotton sheet is obviously safer than breathing on other people, despite being far from perfect.

But using general masks to stop a virus is like wearing a volleyball net to stop gnats. (In reality, the size disparity is far more extreme than that.)

From what I have heard, a large part of the benefit is that it actively interferes with people casually, constantly and mindlessly touching their face.

Sort of like those cones we put on the necks of dogs to control some of their behavior when they have medical stuff happening.

  it actively interferes with people casually, constantly and mindlessly touching their face
Oh, I absolutely agree. And I see its value as not so much "actively interfering" like a Cone of Shame but by serving as a constant reminder against touching hands to face. (Eyes are highly vulnerable but are unprotected by masks.)

Viruses live in droplets. Droplets are greatly reduced by cotton masks (that's why they feel damp after a while).

I believe this 100% to be true. Considering that under certain conditions the virus can stay in the air for up to 3 hours, masks definitely are helpful.

> I believe this 100% to be true.

Based on what evidence exactly?

> Considering that under certain conditions the virus can stay in the air for up to 3 hours, masks definitely are helpful.

Those conditions being using a Goldberg Drum designed to keep aerosols that can't stay airborne for as long as possible? If yes then yeah sure this virus can survive in the air for 3 hours, but that isn't normal reality. It can't stay aloft that long, it will hit a surface.

Goldberg Drum: https://academic.oup.com/aje/article-abstract/68/1/85/188529...

You really only need the mask if you're going out and symptomatic. Even then, as noted, leave the masks for the people that are encountering sick people daily. They need them way more than you do walking around buying groceries.

Your position is just another that has yet to catch on to the fact of asymptomatic transmission. There are countless sources indicating this is happening. Just take the time to read one.

> Your position is just another that has yet to catch on to the fact of asymptomatic transmission. > Just take the time to read one.

This isn't my position, its from virologists. And I'll thank you to not presume I don't already know of those sources. Those aren't relating to aerosols in the air for 3 hours.

Listen to practicing virologists on the matter not me: http://www.microbe.tv/twiv/twiv-592/

And as a note, I'm really resisting not getting pissed off at your comment which seems to presume I'm too dumb to know about asymptomatic transmission.

Perhaps you could, I don't know link to some bioarxiv sources or actual information rather than alluding to things. My comment was exclusively in regards to the virus surviving in aerosol form for 3 hours. Its a contrived environment where that can happen. Transmission in the air isn't what I am discounting. Capiche?

Actually forget about it. I'm just going to stop commenting entirely on this matter.

The CDC itself says cotton masks (bandanas, scarves) help:


The WHO recommendations are meant to preserve a limited supply of masks for where they are needed most. It's not because masks are ineffective

I think people talk past each other a lot on this issue because there's a conflation of population-level versus individual-level decision-making and benefits. The recommendation that you cite is worded for individuals; population-level benefits are simply out of scope.

It will help if everyone wears it. The asymptotic infected will reduce their spread as it will stop them spreading it.

This is the main reason some conuntries, such as the Czech Republic, made masks mandatory in public.

Also if you are protecting others from your ilness, a sinpler home made mask is enough to greetly limit possible spread.

That's a bit of a pipe dream. It's better for people to just stay at home as much as possible. Everyone can do that regardless of the availability of masks.

People need to stay home, but they also need to go to the grocery store, bank, or other essential activities. When they do, they should be wearing a mask.

I think we know that's just not going to happen in general. It's been impossible to buy masks for weeks.

You can make your own from a piece of clothe - there are thousands of people doing just that all over Europe, making masks for themselves, their family and friends.

A tea towel/dish cloth mask catches 70% of virus sized, a vacuum cleaner bag 85% particles as against 90% for surgical masks.

Professional and Home-Made Face Masks Reduce Exposure to Respiratory Infections among the General Population


I've been thinking that in this new reality Amazon warehouse workers and delivery folks are doing something pretty amazing by helping the rest of us.

IMOH Jeff Bezos should really consider this and put something amazing together for these foundational people.

(I say amazing because I think they should be rewarded in a big way - Amazon stock maybe?)

They used to be paid in stock... they wanted $15/hr instead.

It’s hard not to blame those workers if they’re living paycheque to paycheque. For a well-paid programmer it’s a different story but it’s not hard to imagine the immediate liquidity bieng more valuable when expenses take a bigger bite of your income.

> For a well-paid programmer it’s a different story but it’s not hard to imagine the immediate liquidity bieng more valuable when expenses take a bigger bite of your income.

One of the best parts about Netflix's compensation program when I worked there was that you could choose your ratio of stock to cash. You could do 100% stock if you wanted to, or 0%.

Despite this freedom, almost no one chose to get any stock at all. Even people making $200K+ decided the cash was better than the stock.

Why is it better to get some stock instead of its cash equivalent which could be used to buy stock?

The stock was purchased at an 80% discount.

To be clear, it was a stock option, and the option price was 20% of the stock price. So it had to go up 20% to break even. But if it went up 40% you doubled your money.

This is basically what happens behind the scenes at other companies that offer you stock compensation in the form of options. It's just all hidden from you.

Especially after the backdating scandal many companies moved to offering RSUs. These were shares just purchased at a favorable price, no option involved.

the option price was 20% of the stock price.

20% off the stock price?

No of.

If the stock was at $100 that month, we paid $20.

> If the stock was at $100 that month, we paid $20.


> So it had to go up 20% to break even. But if it went up 40% you doubled your money.

Are contradictory. If you paid 20% of the stock prices you made money instantly, you made a TON of money actually.

The stock is at $100. I purchase the option to buy it in the future at $100. I pay $20 for this option. I'm currently $20 in the hole, because I paid $20 for the option and got nothing.

In the future, when the stock is at $120, I exercise the option and buy the stock for $100 with money borrowed from ETrade, and then sell it for $120. I've spent a total of $20, and gained $20 from the sale after paying back the loan, and am thus even.

In the farther future, when the stock is at $140, I exercise my option and pay $100 for the share with borrowed money. I've paid a total of $20 and I get $40 after paying back the loan. I'm $20 ahead.

Since I paid $20 out of my salary for the option, when it went up 20% I broke even, when it went up 40% I doubled my money.

I get it not, thanks for adding the details (it was really not clear from your earlier posts).

This https://benefits.netflix.com/united-states/financial says the options currently cost 40% of the stock price, which seems very high to me.

Yeah they doubled it after I left. But in return they give everyone an automatic 5% on top of their salary.

If they provide it to you on a vesting schedule like other companies do, you gain time in market - i.e. you also gain the stock appreciation until they are vested.

No vesting. You purchased the options monthly based on the current price, and they were immediately vested and good for 10 years, whether or not you were employed with the company.

I bet they'd prefer $20 or $30.

Wow.. such bubble, much removed from reality. 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. And spoiler alert: it's not because of buying iphones! Yeah, fuck these people for not having proper financial education and a savings account.

I didn't make a value judgement. Don't read into malice that isn't there.

Where's the assumed malice? I didn't say you were malicious, just far removed from reality.

Again not making a value judgement. I think we agree that people preferring cash over stock options is understandable and normal. You should probably direct your comments to the OP.
wilma5 8 days ago [flagged]

All the paycheck to paycheck people I know are literally taking out loans to buy $2.5k MacBooks which they mistreat and break within a year only to buy another one.. They go through $1k iPhones and Samsung phones every couple of months due to cracked screens and have new car loans of $650 per month which they completely trash.

Seems you know only a certain type of people. I know or have met quite a few people who almost every month worry how to get food on the table or what to do if their old beat up car breaks down.
wilma5 8 days ago [flagged]

Food is Max $150-$200 per month and a decent working car can be had for less than $2k, which can easily be afforded on even a McDonald's job, which is mostly just a socializing group. I am friends with several fast food workers and they are too busy having sex with their coworkers and partying to be concerned with any of this.

Maybe you should expand your circle of friends.

I am friends with lots of people of all types including doctors, lawyers, construction workers, programmers, day care providers, you name it, and have met many more. All of them that live paycheck to paycheck are like this, just my observations. Anyone not living paycheck to paycheck is usually much more responsible, "boring" and is capable of planning more than a week in advance, but it's not hard at all. Even when trying to educate these people they do not really take it to heart and will go out and waste $200 in a night of drinking after getting their paycheck.

I totally agree that if a doctor, lawyer or programmer lives paycheck to paycheck there is a problem with their financial habits. But there are plenty of other people who are very frugal but never can get ahead because their pay is very low or maybe they have medical problems that eat up their disposable income.

You created a new account just to share with us that you congregate with irresponsible people? You are aware that the world spans far wider than the circle of people you know, right? And that they're not representative of the working class of this country, right?

Yes please share your knowledge as well.

It's also worth noting that if our economy starts deflating (basically inevitable at this point), real incomes will rise. So $15 an hour next month is like $20 an hour last month (or some ratio like that).

Why do you think it's inevitable that there will be a deflation? Genuine question, it seems the money supply is going to be increasing?

I don't think it can happen for any period longer than 1 year, when the entity that can create unlimited money at will has 2% inflation rate as one of their two main goals.

Nope. The dollar is so strong that other countries are trying really hard to get as much USD as possible. This means that liquidity is drying up and there is a shortage of dollars world-wide. This is deflationary right until we see the banking sector collapse.

That's one factor, I'd argue it is caused by the $12 trillon is usd denominated debt, and due to the economic situation, no cashflow to pay it. But the Fed has been ramping up printing presses, creating a tug of war. How long before the latter overtakes the former?

The Fed just expanded repo to $1 trillion per day: https://m.theepochtimes.com/fed-expands-repo-to-1-trillion-p...

You're totally right about repo and massive amounts of loans, but the impact of other countries trying to get USD outweighs this - at least in the short term.

Checkout currency trading right now - the USD is surging compared to every other world currency. That's because demand for USD is extremely high world wide.

Investopedia has a good definition of deflation after crises that might be helpful to you.


I hope all these raises, unemployment resources, remote work and collectivization measures stick around after. Flexibility is great.

What has all this coronavirus action made me feel?

The virus effects everybody equally (generally there are age things in there)

We're all about austerity of social benefits, "I get mine". How did the wonders of the free market help when we were in trouble?

We don't share nearly enough. We criticize each other too much. We miss opportunities to improve the social system democratically because we fall for the intoxicating allure of being sidetracked by narrow groups pushing to get more, just for them. Enough to break up the vote to give us multi-pronged, layered, comprehensive, and fair social security. The nod to only help one group to spite everyone else draws ire, to keep the cycle repeating as an emotional back and forth. Every time. We don't fix the statutes.

I hope anything that doles out benefits universally sticks around and becomes normal in life, after this.

I hope after this labor and health policies get more generous. Way more generous. And value people for being human beings, without preferential treatment based on who is most this or that. Raise the bar for all natural persons.

Glad to see this from Amazon, although I see it heading off the inevitable. Wouldn't this be the most powerful moment for employees in 'essential' services to engage in worker strikes? Is there any legal precedent for what governments would do?

With all this war rhetoric thrown around, it seems a reasonable jump to declare essential workers troops on the frontline deserving of what we give other troops (free health care, pension, heavily subsidized secondary education)

Striking in order to exploit a global disaster for personal gain would be a great way for organized labor to turn many people against them for a life time. It may work in the short term, but even that is debatable. Many people would gladly see the national guard break a strike if it's between them and basic essentials. Long term, the optics of that kind of move are so damning that it would likely be a net-loss.

There are already enough people unemployed just over the past week that would fill those jobs in a heartbeat...

I'm not sure it's understood yet what kind of devastation is unfolding with small businesses, which make up ~50% of the workforce.

This is going to have long term lasting effects that further suppress labor rates and further concentrate wealth/capital in the US. It's accelerating a problem we already had.

40% of the wealth in the stock market was wiped out over the last few weeks which drastically impacts the upper middle class and rich the most. Negative returns on capital do not promote wealth inequality.

Much of what was "lost" was paper profits, artificially inflated in the first place, due to extremely cheap credit and massive demand spikes due to companies buying back enormous amounts of their own stock. Limited wage growth over the past decade, and reduction of benefits helped too.

From a time horizon, US stock markets have only regressed 3 years, and both the S&P and DJIA are about double where they were 10 years ago, while NASDAQ is still higher than triple its early 2010 value. Market leaders like FB, MSFT, GOOGL, NFLX, AAPL have only fallen to levels they were at in 2019.

You simply can't just focus on the decline without taking a hard look at how markets reached those heights in the first place and evaluating whether they were sustainable. Well you can, as you did, but it would be disingenuous.

Yes. But that's simply in the short term. A good number of these people have reserves that allow them to buy back in.

In the short term, the middle to the bottom lose as well. But since they can't buy back in their piece of the pie falls into the hands of those that can. Like 2007/2008 this will ultimately result in a massive transfer from the Have-less to the Have-more.

For example, small businesses will close and Amazon will pick up that slack. Easily.

they can trade on margin. Making use of low interest rates.

So when the market recovers, which it will. They can see greater gains.

with fed interest rate at 0%. I’m sure the 0.01% can get incredibly favorable loans against their assets to double down.

"I can trade on margin" said no one with the rent / mortgage due.

That aside, you're missing the point. The public stock market best enriches those with the most reserves. Everyone else gets trickled on.

Not to mention margin calls if the stock goes down past a given price.

Any good financial manager would have went cash or established a short position. Even if you held, as long as you don't realize your losses you will be right back to pre crash levels in 2-3 years, just like in 2008 or any other recession.

The wealthy have the capital to take advantage of the stock market, but are also insulated from the effects of downturns due to diversified financial investments and cash on hand. Recessions are also when the wealthy expand their property holdings.

> Even if you held, as long as you don't realize your losses you will be right back to pre crash levels in 2-3 years, just like in 2008 or any other recession.

Japan still hasn't recovered from the 80s. At some point the economy is going to stop growing. A lot of growth is driven by debt which needs to be repaid. A lot of growth is driven by an increasing population which will eventually plateau, and what's worse you have to support those people (healthcare, education, housing) if you don't want them to cost even more money.

At some point the economy isn't going to just keep growing. I have no idea when that will be, but the market doesn't just go up over time as if it's some law of nature.


If 50 trillion dollars are "printed", then yes, the economy will appear to be growing purely based on the prices of stocks going up. Whether that represents real growth is another matter entirely

Japan has recovered. The Nikkei is just a piss poor index.


>Any good financial manager would have went cash or established a short position.

Yeah, they did, while losing money during the crash, which is why there was a crash.

Their net worth is down if they held. The wealthy were just as unlikely to sell out before the crash as anyone else, they don’t have A magic future prediction machine.

> The wealthy have the capital to take advantage of the stock market, but are also insulated from the effects of downturns due to diversified financial investments and cash on hand. Recessions are also when the wealthy expand their property holdings.

None of this negates the fact that the crash wiped a significant chunk of their net worth out. Either they were invested in the market (real estate, stocks, bonds, etc) and they were accumulating wealth in a Picketty fashion until they got slammed by the crash or they missed the crash because they weren’t accumulating. You can’t have it both ways.

Real people lost a lot of real money. Bear in mind most of the wealth of most well off people is held in shares. It's just not possible that all shareholders all sold before the crash. A lot of people lost a lot of money.

The problem is not so much that some rich people are now somewhat less rich. Boo hoo. Let's rephrase that another way though.

A lot of people that previously had the wealth and assets to invest in new businesses, grow existing businesses, create jobs and fund the development of new technology now don't. These are the primary ways wealth is actually used, and now there is less of it around to do those things. So a lot less of those things are going to happen now. If you either work for a company that pays you, or have customers that buy your stuff, this is a bad thing to happen. Companies will have less to pay you with, and customers will have less money to buy stuff with because the same applies to them too.

Or employee ownership is allowed to expand as a means to grow a biz. True, that won't fill all the gaps. But it's certainly an option worthy of more attention.

How does employee ownership through stock giveaways generate capital for investment?

Depends on the spin. Couldn't you argue this is exploitation of the health of desperate low-paid workers, their family and their communities?

> Couldn't you argue this is exploitation of the health of desperate low-paid workers, their family and their communities?

Giving people a raise to incentivize them to voluntarily work to supply resources people desperately need is pretty difficult to spin into exploitation. Many people are out there volunteering to do such things for free because they understand how badly it's needed. I suspect those likely to be sympathetic to that line made up their minds about such things long before this event. I do agree with you that some folks will definitely try that angle though.

I acknowledge that asking for increased wages may not pitch well. Perhaps the more effective angle is for strikers to demand all health expenses these workers incur during this time be covered.

As everyone notices their packages stop arriving, comparatively few will buy into the idea that people making $17/hr are being 'exploited', especially as many people find their own working hours being reduced or eliminated.

People making $16/hr aren't the ones living on Amazon Prime package flow.

If you've ever wondered if you're out of touch and in your own echo chamber, you definitely are.

Yes they are. A married couple each making that wage puts them right around the average household income in the US. Amazon got big by catering to the average household.

That sounds like a side effect of the gig economy, job insecurity, and a lack of safety nets, so it's all just a race to the bottom for laborers.

Yes, you could argue that; thereafter, the overwhelming majority of people indifferent to worker conditions in the gig-delivery supply chain would then notice, rather acutely, when their preparedness meter inches toward zero. If we were living in a world where they then took time to study the issue and hear your argument, we may arrive at your outcome. Since we are not, more accurately, when people and politicians fresh out of toilet paper snap assess their dilemma and are conveniently presented with a picket line to blame in the media, we arrive at the unpleasant outcome being forecast for you. (I would argue a worse one.)

Negative consequences of Internet supply chain worker organization right now are a certainty due to intense delivery demand (the IKEA cart is barely functional today), and those optics are an element of the gig/delivery economic equation which I don’t think anyone has thought about until now. That economic model promised to somewhat free the worker and, quite predictably given its proponents, instead seems to have done the opposite.

More than ever before, workers are essential to survival. Striking isn’t just the UAW setting back 2022 Fords a bit, these days. Organizational actions have very, very real potential to collapse parts of the intertwined economy under these circumstances. We will need to consider that reality on the other side of the pandemic but you do not want to so much as blow on the world economy right now. There is a mountain of latent panic waiting for the excuse you’d hand it to organize and manifest.

Important: I’m not saying it’s “right,” just illustrating political and economic realities which make selecting the next move carefully all that more crucial. The entire planet is on a razor’s edge, and if you’re keen to dismiss my position as irrational, organize an Amazon walkout.

Is Amazon only delivering basic essentials at a fixed cost? Where is this list of basic essentials that Amazon is so charitably ensuring the prompt delivery of?

These people are in an overcrowded warehouse, without proper protection, while we are self-isolating. In these trying times, I would value my health higher than that.

Happened in World War II, and that’s why health insurance in the U.S. is tied to employers.

Could you expand on this bit of history please?

The Real Reason the U.S. Has Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/05/upshot/the-real-reason-th...

With how 9/11 first responders were treated, or how veterans are treated now, don't count on the US making good on any promises it makes to its heroes. There is tons of hero worship and thumping of patriotic chests, but tangible actions typically fall well short of the level of care you'd expect. Lots of talking the talk, but not walking the walk.

Yea. Trump even pardoned a special forces killer against the wishes of fellow vets, the military, etc. our respect for veterans is flimsy.

> Is there any legal precedent for what governments would do?

There is a long history of the government using the military to break strikes and fill the labor gap for things deemed necessary for national security. I'm not sure Amazon warehouses are in the same class as coal mines though...

The government would absolutely step in and stop a strike at Amazon right now, or just about any other business. Anyone trying to strike right now would be run out of town by citizens with torches as well. It might sound like a good idea in the abstract, but if you factor in the emotional state of the country, people would be up in arms and those on strike would get zero sympathy.

What would the Government do? Force people to go back to work at gunpoint?

I'd love to see them try.

The state of education in this country about the history of the labor movement is seriously depressing. I'm sure that's intentional though.

No, it’s covered. You might just be shocked to learn that children don’t really care about collective bargaining history anymore than the dates of important battles in WW2.

We covered the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, the muckrakers, and Roosevelt's war against trusts, but I don't ever recall hearing the name Eugene Debs, or say the Haymarket massacre.

> but I don't ever recall hearing the name Eugene Debs, or say the Haymarket massacre.

These are both covered in the popular APUSH American History courses.

I'd believe that. How many people end up taking APUSH though?

There was a time they did just that. Probably what your parent is referencing:


Italy had just declared any doctors/nurses on sick leave right now while not being sick, violate the laws and will be prosecuted.

Under emergency there isn't really rights for individual, not much.

There is a great deal of history where, yes, physical force & violence was used to break strikes. [0] <-- Just one example. [1] <-- another. [2][3] <-- more. The union labor movement is not at its most popular right now either. There'd be a lot more people rooting for the government right now.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead_strike#The_strike's_...

[1] https://www.britannica.com/event/Pullman-Strike

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Railroad_Strike_of_1877

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haymarket_affair

With the coal strikes they threatened to draft every coal miner and nationalize the mines. That would likely be the same methodology used now.

But I think we're a bunch of disassociated internet people talking about how a bunch of people who just got double time should be unhappy.

Double time doesn't make their risk of watching a potentially deadly disease less likely, does it?

If DHS had used 6 million rounds a months since 2013, they’d still have enough for another 13 years of Iraq-invasion level war.


Torches are 25$ apiece now and you can only get them at Amazon.

I would be sympathetic.

not quite, but delivery services are extremely important to the vulnerable population right now. many of these people are old and, as we all know, these are the people that vote most consistently. no sitting politician wants to be the one who sat on their hands while a strike prevented the elderly from receiving their hand sanitizer order.

People shut in at home don't need hand sanitizer.

I mean that's sort of beside the point; it only matters whether they think they do. the older people I know are aggressively sanitizing stuff whenever they have anything delivered.

> I'm not sure Amazon warehouses are in the same class as coal mines though...

Essential for food security and biosafety? I'd say the same class.

That's quite a stretch. Amazon is not the sole seller of any of it's goods, and calling hand sanitizer essential for national security would not go over well...

Ask yourself again in two weeks whether it's a stretch.


It's very easy to look back 100 years and say "the governments actions helped rich people! Capitalism!!!!" But it's really not so simple.

If you had a angry man blocking your driveway and refusing to leave, you would call the police. If there were hundreds, you would like to be able to call the military.

I'm no lover of government, and certainly it was fumbling and violent when performing it's duty (as always). That said, the purpose of breaking a strike is to allow people who want to work (strike breakers) to do business with people who want to employ them.

A core function of government is to facilitate mutual transactions. There's nothing inherently immoral about that.

> Is there any legal precedent for what governments would do?

I don't think you should be looking for legal precedent, just practical one.

Depending on the severity of the impact, governments would (and did several times):

1 - Declare the strike illegal and order people back to work, fine and at the worst case arrest the organizers if they don't comply.

2 - Declare the involved unions illegal, free companies to hire whoever they want and disobey agreements.

3 - Conscript people into doing the work, either by using the company as middle-men or by literally enrolling them on the military and absorbing the work.

But I don't think any government will have to do any of that. A strike does not fit this crisis very well, no party would gain anything.

... whatever Amazon does, it is always "however", "although" and "but" on HN

People, please get real. You all are running (or dreaming of) your own small business.

How much of payrise are you willing to give your workforce now?

This news is pure win for workers, consumers and amazon.

As much as Amazon is willing to pay for? Why do you assume Amazon is just being benevolent? I'm all for capitalism but this is what capitalism is, the workers don't have to just be happy with whatever Amazon throws at them, they can negotiate

I guess a good question would be "How much of a profit can Amazon make now?". The answer is as much as the market is willing to give, and that's the same for the workers' salary.

Yes. When the bailouts for so many others are happening, people in meat-packing plants, checking out groceries and delivering mail etc need major wage increases.

I think around 3X current levels. USPS mail carriers and handlers are being given no guidance or support right now either.

> When the bailouts for so many others are happening

I don't disagree that the support for, say, airlines, are bailouts, but the connotation that word has from 2008-2009 mischaracterizes what's going on right now. When this all blows over, you absolutely want airlines ready for business. Letting heavily impacted businesses fail is a recipe for a depression.

It's probably time to nationalize the airline industry entirely. Why do they enrich themselves during good times, and then we bail them out during bad times? If it's essential to economic stability and national security, and it keeps costing taxpayers a ton of money, then why even continue this facade of "private" airlines?

The same excuse was used for banks during the recession. We need banks when the economy recovers, and we need people who know the system to unwind the major screw ups they did. What happened is most of the people who were responsible for the recession remained in power making a lot of money. Lessons were not really learned, other than that being too big to fail is a good position to be in.

> Why do they enrich themselves during good times

Did they? Airline stock prices have collapsed, so unless insiders sold everything in January, "enrich themselves" really means standard executive pay...which might be high, but that's another issue. Airlines, as businesses, didn't behave especially irresponsibly for the past decade. It's nothing like the banking excesses in 2007 that causes 2008.

Air travel in the US was significantly more expensive when it was heavily regulated. By your logic, you very quickly get to a Chinese level of state ownership of businesses. Practically every large cap company would be on that list.

> standard executive pay...which might be high, but that's another issue

It's not. It shouldn't be "another issue" every single time we discuss a company having financial trouble, just because it's widespread.

> By your logic, you very quickly get to a Chinese level of state ownership of businesses. Practically every large cap company would be on that list.

Not really. Any company that's not a natural monopoly can go ahead and go bankrupt. Utilities and transit would be on the list. Banks could be on or off the list depending on how you handle them. Not much else would be on the list.

They enriched themselves through stock buybacks over the last decade to boost stock price and executive compensation, at the cost of not having money on hand to weather bad times.

Does your discounted unregulated fare rate include the cost of the all the bailouts over the decades? Are you fine with letting the airlines fail this time?

> It's probably time to nationalize the airline industry entirely.

Great call. Every time I watch a presidential press conference, my first thought is "Wow, when this all blows over, I hope these people are running the airlines."

Because incompetence doesn't exist in the private sector? Is it really even a private sector when it's reliant on billions or trillions of dollars of public capital injections every decade or so?

Maybe it's not such a bad thing to ask the question of who do we want running these huge ventures, which seem so entangled to the health of the economy and citizens. That applies to the government and private sector.

At least then the people in charge are forced to respond in some capacity to what the public wants rather than individual purchasing decisions about what tactically works best moment to moment.

The bank (as well as the GM) bailout did involve equity transfers. I believe quite a few shareholders got wiped out, and the net result was even positive for the government (barely, but still).

Also interesting: The farm subsidies over the last two years, supposed to compensate them for their business losses due to Trump’s trade war, cost a multiple of the 2008 bailout (2x or 3x IIRC). None of that will be recovered.

Airlines deserve no sympathy from how they've spent 90% of free cash flow over the years buying back their own stocks.

Now when times are tough they have no cash reserves and are seeking government bailouts.

Just appalling.

Even if they saved literally every penny of profit made in the last 5 years, including buybacks, the most profitable airline would've had 4 (now closer to 3) months of cash reserves in a situation like this one. Is it really reasonable to expect a corporation to plan for every black swan like this and just totally ignore shareholders? Why would anyone be a shareholder if it means not getting anything when times are good and lose value when times get harder?

But I'm against airlines getting bailed out. It's a huge moral hazard imo to just remove the risks of investing in... a risky sector. Bankruptcy courts should deal with this and lenders should take the hit too. Still, blaming this on share buybacks doesn't make a lot of sense... A corporation hoarding money is bad.

The bailouts you are referring to are just loans. Are you suggesting loans are what workers need?

> Wouldn't this be the most powerful moment for employees in 'essential' services to engage in worker strikes?

No, because there's currently/there will soon be an army of unemployed retail/service workers who will happily take their jobs.

If that happens I'll show up at my local warehouse and work for free. People are dying.

Why aren't you doing this already then?

Because the market is still working right now. Amazon is raising wages and hiring like crazy.

Pretty sure they still need more help. Why don't you apply? Unless you'd only offer your services for free in order to spite striking workers asking for better working conditions? How noble of you...

We have laws in place that ban critical workers from striking. Air traffic controllers aren't allowed to just stop working. Usually Amazon warehouse workers are not critical infrastructure, but this month they are. Talking about "spite" implies I would be concerned about their opinion in any way if they were to start striking. Their feelings would be irrelevant.

Again, why you don't you go sign up for the labor-intensive warehouse and delivery work, with significant risk of contracting COVID-19 while having poor health coverage and no sick leave, along with people demanding that you should absolutely be forced to work those conditions? Please, go volunteer your time, you seem to so apt to make other people's jobs mandatory, and oddly they are jobs you don't seem to want to do!

It again sounds like you only want to volunteer your time to this crisis if it involves the unlikely circumstance of strike busting. Very noble. I hope you gave yourself a big pat on the back.

What part of the market is still working do you not understand? Amazon is raising wages and attracting more workers. I want this to happen. I'm happy the workers are getting relief in the form of more coworkers to help cover shifts and higher wages.

If a new factory opened up in my town making ventilators and there was a critical labor shortage with no available workers, I would show up for that too. In this hypothetical there's no striking workers to "spite".

Imagining you understand my motivations is a critical thinking error. Attributing bad motivations to me unjustly doesn't just make you wrong, it makes you a bad person.

>I'm happy the workers are getting relief in the form of more coworkers to help cover shifts and higher wages.

How do you know this? Did you apply, and they said your help was not needed at this time? Is your name on file, will they call you back if there is an opening?

Have you called all local charities in your area and offered to volunteer your time for free?

You're waiting for magical strikes and magical ventilator companies to show up, yet you are eager to volunteer other's time, while coming up empty on actually volunteering your own.

Imagining you know what I have or haven't done in my community to help the needy is a critical thinking error. Attributing bad motivations to me unjustly doesn't just make you wrong, it makes you a bad person.

I am not a bad person, just someone who this specific issue impacts personally. I don't get to wait for hypothetical situations to occur to make difficult decisions related to this issue, I actually have to make them. Perhaps think twice before offering to undermine the valid concerns these workers have.

if there's massive unemployment many people are going to be happy just to have a job and will not want to risk losing it

A strike now would incur the hatred of the public in general and a bipartisan political wrath. Nope, their best position of leverage will be just after the crisis when appreciation is at its highest, people haven't forgotten what they've done, and they have a strong argument to say, "look how essential we are, we should be a happy & valued workforce"

The administration would certainly order employees back to work under the Taft–Hartley Act under threat of imprisonment. While it resists ordering companies to produce critically need medical supplies on ideological grounds[1], there can be no doubt that it would not miss an opportunity to damage labor organizations.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/us/politics/trump-coronav...

> no doubt that it would not miss

ERROR: Stack Overflow

The nurse union has had a small amount of success with just the threat. Unfortunately there isn't a lot to give them. Even time is limited with a shrinking ceiling on staff as they sit two weeks out with symptoms.

>Wouldn't this be the most powerful moment for employees in 'essential' services to engage in worker strikes?

Many would have no sympathy for workers exploiting a crisis like this.

Don't get to excited on the other hand they fire workers who are ill and can't work.

E.g. you have people still trying to come into work to get paid and spreading the sickness.

That might be the worst idea I've ever heard. Shutting down the supply lines during a pandemic would have disastrous consequences for everyone.

Strike right now means government will chime in and force them back to work.

Iirc during ww2 the military was there to just take union workers jobs if they went on strike in critical sections like mines.

>War rhetoric

Wait, like a real war? Who's talking about a war? Between what parties? I have heard nothing about a war, please explain.

Consider it 'military rhetoric' if you prefer. It's politically very effective in galvanizing support among Americans for things that are not really targetable (i.e. war on drugs, terrorism). Outside the US, French leader Macron has declared 'We are at war'.

Some further contemplation on it: https://newrepublic.com/article/156949/casualties-war-corona...

Oh. Okay. Thanks for clarifying.

Based on downvotes I'm gonna go ahead and guess that there is no war (aside from the wars that are already going) and this use of the word "war" was referring to something else. Still I would like someone to please confirm that there is not a real war coming.

I heard this was about France declaring war on the virus. I assume if they're officially declaring war (again, against the virus), certain government powers / resources are immediately available.

I suppose that could be the case. I don't know how power is distributed throughout the French government. Thanks for clarifying. I live in the Pacific, so I don't follow much European news.

> I'm gonna go ahead and guess that there is no war

That's not really right, because that implies that other people are using the word wrong. It's more that it's a word with a lot of uses, and you got stuck on one of them.

They are using it wrong. I think when op said "war" op meant "public health policy" which is really far away from war. It's actually the complete opposite thing.

They're not using it wrong.

Merriam-Webster, definition 2:

  2a: a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism
  b: a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a 
  particular end
  a class war
  a war against disease
Note that last line. The use here is so extremely valid that it's an example in the dictionary!

I don't know what the parent had in mind but in Europe at least the word "war" has been thrown around a lot lately. The French president said that France was in a "state of war" during his last discourse for instance.

As Calvin Coolidge said "there is no right to strike against the public safety." People can organize all they want, but they can't conspire to harm people, holding lives up as not-that-metaphorical hostages in a negotiation. It's the idea of yelling fire in a crowded theater. Putting people's lives in danger for literal personal profit would be a sure-fire way to turn people against unionization.

Interesting. What about “strike for the public safety”?

Performing a strike to achieve a goal for public safety, such as, when the government of a city decided, against public opinion, not to close the border even when bordering a large country with lots of infected patients, some essential workers decided to go on strike to demand the close of the border?

Even more interestingly, if the essential workers are themselves public safety workers, hence their strike would put some people in risks, while hoping for saving more people when the demands are met---real life Trolley problem.

Not hypothetical, I have an actual case in mind.

That's somewhat ingenious. I sometimes hear about walkouts when a company has some military contract - I bet that would be a good time to unionize; make ending the contract part of deal.

I think this is a great idea.

I also think it was pretty horrible to prevent shipments of non-essential items from 3rd-party sellers (we can still purchase these items now, but sellers can no longer ship these items to amazon FBA warehouses).

Many of these sellers will now have to layoff their own staff, because they will be unable to make payroll/ship out products.

One of the Danish consumer NGOs called tænk recently tested the security of things bought off amazon, wish and other online retailers. More than half of the smoke alarms bought on amazon didn’t work. Around half of the baby toys didn’t meet choking hazard safety.

Not sure why anyone still buys things from there. Or anywhere online really, all the other retailers failed as well.

When I buy something from Amazon, typically what I get is exactly what I expected, at a good price, with quick delivery. I bought socks from my preferred brand and got them. I bought a pair of trail running shoes that someone recommended, and they're excellent -- I wore them just yesterday to run on trails. I bought AA batteries and got AA batteries. And so on. This, for me, is the standard Amazon experience. Why wouldn't I buy things from them?

(I admit that I haven't tried buying no-name brand smoke alarms, baby toys that weren't designed with Denmark's choking hazard standards in mind, or any other category cherry-picked by a consumer NGO trying to do an exposé. Maybe that's the secret to my success?)

I've had this attitude in the past as well. I never believed people who said they got counterfeit items on Amazon, or blamed them for buying off-brand items. Until one day I got a counterfeit SanDisk SD card. Sold by SanDisk, shipped by Amazon, straight from SanDisk's merchant page. Then I got a counterfeit Swiss Gear backpack. A Xbox controller I bought from Microsoft, shipped from Amazon, and inside the package was a no-brand Xbox controller. It worked, but I paid for name brand and got an obvious knock-off.

You can keep blaming others like I used to do, but someday it might happen to you just like it happened to me. There is a very obvious problem at Amazon and you literally cannot be careful enough to avoid it. At some point, it will happen to you. I hope it's not something where safety is critical, like a smoke alarm. You might not get a chance to leave a negative review.

> More than half of the smoke alarms bought on amazon didn’t work

I've bought multiple name-brand ones off Amazon, sold by Amazon. The one by my bathroom absolutely works. I can't count how often a steamy shower set it off. Were they buying knockoffs from third-party sellers?

A steamy shower should not set off a smoke alarm. Perhaps it has a higher false positive rate.


> photoelectric smoke alarms should not be placed near bathrooms or similar locations that create steam. Even though location recommendations are already common on alarm packaging, nuisance alarms persist in homes due to inappropriate alarm placement

Which I suppose is on me, but it is a known issue with some smoke detectors.

The reason a steamy shower shouldn't set off an alarm is because fire code requires you to put the detector far enough away from the bathroom that it will not encounter steam. Smoke detectors of all types will detect steam; they just detect particles. The person you replied to is likely experiencing false positives because of improper installation.

Bought a smoke detector; received a steam detector. Not a good review.

Due to isolation I ordered from them for the first time in a very long time. I'm blown away by how much garbage is on there now. Or was it always there? I'm glad I could stay inside but I really need to find something better.

Target is much better, IMO, depending on what you’re looking for.

> Not sure why anyone still buys things from there. Or anywhere online really, all the other retailers failed as well.

A combination of convenience and a monopoly. They have made purchasing as frictionless as possible.

Did they also similarly test the security of things from brick and mortar? Otherwise it's a moot comparison.

> More than half of the smoke alarms bought on amazon didn’t work. Around half of the baby toys didn’t meet choking hazard safety.

This is a manufacturer issue. This has nothing to do with Amazon.

> Not sure why anyone still buys things from there. Or anywhere online really, all the other retailers failed as well.

This is just a blanket statement that is completely wrong. Amazon sells all sorts of reputable supplies and toys for babies. Name a reputable company. I'm sure they have an online store.

Edit: This whole situation is going to drive even more shopping online and especially to Amazon. The elderly are getting on board.

I agree with your general point but Amazon does have a pretty big problem with counterfeited products. If you buy some ultra-cheap no-name alarm and it doesn't end up working very well, you got what you paid for. If you bought a reputable brand but ended up with a non-functional knockoff I do think that it's fair to give a share of the blame to Amazon.

This is a manufacturer issue. This has nothing to do with Amazon.

Amazon is the company selling the product. Every brick and mortar store is expected to not sell defective goods, why should Amazon be exempt?

Amazon workers should unionize immediately now that the virus has given them leverage.

People are getting laid off from every other job left and right I would be surprised if they have the leverage you think they do. The increase in pay for people working through this is to compensate for the perceived risk of getting sick which is different than a shortage of workers. When you have record numbers of people applying for unemployment you can certainly replace striking workers quickly and with the current situation there would be zero sympathy from the public over a union causing that kind of mess.

They aren't going fire their entire workforce now

Who is your public in this conception? Most people in the US works jobs closer to Amazon warehouse workers and don’t want to see they’re loved ones made sick or injured so upper middle class people can hoard prime deliveries.

The UAW was pushing for factories to shutdown out of concern for worker safety in Michigan before they decided to, they were applauded for doing so by the governor, and none of my family there thinks they were in the wrong.

Everyone who was caught unprepared and is trying to stock up on food, toilet paper, and household cleaning supplies. Your characterization of Prime Members doesn't jive with reality plenty of lower income house holds have prime memberships[0] and that isn't a requirement for ordering from Amazon either so I'm not sure why you bring it up.

What do you think your family's opinion of UAW would be if they represented workers in Toilet Paper, Clorox, and Food manufacturing and got those plants to shut down and they could no longer get those products? Autos are a way different thing than the essentials.

[0] https://www.statista.com/statistics/610070/amazon-prime-reac...

> During the measured period in August 2018, it was found that 55.7 percent of consumers with an income of 75,000 U.S. dollars and more had an Amazon Prime membership.

I dunno where you live, but if a lot of your customer base in in this income range, you’re a good deal outside the median in the US.

> What do you think family's opinion of UAW would be if they represented workers in Toilet Paper, Clorox, and Food manufacturing and got those plants to shut down and they could no longer get those products?

I grew up knowing a fair amount of farmers and people manufacturing the exact kind of stuff you’re describing. Very few of them would side with the bosses. Most of these people in the Midwest are going to local grocery chains (there are huge regional players in the Midwest) to buy this stuff, not buying off Amazon. Going to Target or Trader Joe’s instead of these stores is seen as status signaling.

That graph says that 1/3rd of households making less than 35k per year and 40% of households that make between 35k and 75k a year have prime membership.

I'm from the mid-west. Where do you think Meijer, Schnucks, and Jewl Osco get their toilet paper from? If the union insists the TP plant shut down there is no TP whether you buy that from the grocery store or Amazon.

If the union insists the toilet paper factory shut down because everyone is getting sick, there’s not going to be a toilet paper factory if the bosses disregard. The same is true of Amazon’s logistics network, although I’m sure they’ll try and pretend it isn’t.

Was there any evidence of out breaks at the car factories when they had those shut down?

If workers unionize right now, then it will probably put the general public opinion against the workers. Specially as the pandemic get its way into the US, and more and more people self quarantine, and start relying in delivery services for all their shopping

They could unionize without disrupting the service, just to increase their bargaining power and unify their representation.

With as many service workers expected to be out of a job for awhile after this blows over, if warehouse workers try to strike, there will be plenty of people willing to take their place.

The virus, in some ways, has given them the opposite of leverage. The labor market is and will be flooded with laid off workers.

Then again, lots of laid off workers (like me) come from other unions. What better way to unionize a workplace than by flooding it with union workers from other industries?

Ex-union workers aren’t a protected class in the US and there is often discrimination.

That’s why it’s actually important to unionize in the very near term. Amazon can’t replace all of their workers if they unionize right away and the union leverage can guarantee safer working conditions for all the new hires.

> Amazon can’t replace all of their workers if they unionize right away

I bet they could.

it's a tricky time for both sides. imagine the optics of actually striking during the current crisis. not sure whether amazon or the union would come out looking worse, but it would be a big hit to both.

Has it? There’s probably a ton of people looking for this kind of job on the market.

How fast would they be able to hire and train replacements, and how much would it cost?

You don't need much training for Amazon warehouse job. You start moving boxes from day one.

The virus has given them no such thing. These are only temporary measures meant to stem attrition because Amazon set a policy of unlimited UPT until the end of the month for anyone sick... as soon as that's no longer necessary, there will be mass layoffs and pay cuts across the board.

Regardless, Amazon needs to play this very carefully. If they do not take appropriate actions to protect their workforce and the virus proliferates throughout their supply chain and logistics network, they will be completely shutdown.

Paying workers double pay does not make COVID-19 cases go down, if anything, you're encouraging it to go up by having more employees working together for longer hours, and as those cases go up, the higher the chances of a legal mandate to shutdown becomes.

I understand what you're saying, but walking out or forcing negotiations during a global pandemic is sociopathic, and the union would gather a massive amount of political venom.

I don't know how you think bargaining works, but they don't just demand "do XYZ or we'll all walk out". There's lots of levers on both sides. The point of negotiation is to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution. Striking is always a last resort, and quite rare, since it's bad for workers, too.

I would not be surprised if the pay increase is a preemptive move prevent unionization. But then again, could just be real increase in demand.

Not just venom, they are begging for destruction.

People seem to forget the very meaning of a state. Spoiler: it is about power, and physical power.

Even for a typical right-winger like me (I'm actively fighting against unionization in my own profession) it makes total sense in context of warehouse workers and current events.

Interesting -- what's the basis for this distinction? Unions make sense for the dumb masses in low-end jobs, but not for smart professionals like yourself?

I think the common argument is that unions tend to flatten pay disparities among workers. if you're currently recognized as an outstanding performer and compensated accordingly, you might expect to lose out under unionization. not saying this is necessarily true (or untrue), just that this is what people think. in fields where productivity varies less by skill, you would tend to see less of this objection.

Both police unions and teachers unions are well known for fighting against performance based pay.

Unions bring everyone toward the average. So, it's not in my interest.

This is a PR stunt from Amazon. Amazon has sophisticated software to schedule employees so that no overtime is given. I think they would rather shut down than pay overtime.

Give these people, grocery store workers, sewers .. all the low end workers who we need more then ever at least $30 US dollars an hour. As well in other countries do a similar match!

I run in mostly “Fuck the man” circles, so i feel weird saying this, but amazon has consistently been a good leader for other businesses in terms of compensation. I wish they’d go to 25 an hour, as that’s the minimum I could live on

The slightly dimmer view is that amazon has consistently been a leader for precisely the same reason ford was a hundred years ago


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