I once had all of my lunches turned into safety briefings with some slimeball in a suit lecturing us on the evils of unions for an hour. This prevented us from discussing unions favorably during our only time off during the day, so we decided to start an after-work club at the local pool hall. Less propaganda, more beer and real talk.
Try taking your messages out of the office. Find some place the boss doesnt control and believe me, this will help a lot. You're still going to get flyers, phone calls, letters, and even doorstep visitors if you push for a union but just remember: its all bullshit at this point. Remember why you wanted to do this, and keep a running list of issues the company has not addressed. Remember: a union gives you fair bargaining for anything else you want or need for the company to succeed and you to do your job in the future as well. Some of the handouts now might seem generous but believe me, if you back down, the company will fire absolutely everyone they can identify as an organizer that hasnt been let go up till now.
The majority of their employees are unskilled labour. Warehouse workers and delivery drivers. An Amazon warehouse worker in Canada makes just a little more than minimum wage. Even if it might be a nice company to work for if you're in an office, it may be a very different reality for the majority of workers.
You're probably running into the contrarian dynamic (https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...): an initial wave of comments making objections, followed by a wave of objections to the objections, which the community then upvotes heavily.
What determines the initial wave of comments is not community opinion—it's what's the easiest thing to make reflexive objections to.
In the US, Amazon warehouse workers make more than double the federal minimum wage. They make, at minimum, more than double the wage of an average McDonalds worker. They make more than Starbucks store workers, more than most construction workers. Even in Canada, Amazon warehouse workers make more than your average Tim Hortons worker.
Warehouse workers also get the same health insurance that Amazon SWEs get, which is better health insurance by far than even most white-collar American workers have.
>The majority of their employees are unskilled labour.
Unskilled laborers getting double minimum wage and great benefits seems to me to be a good thing for society. It baffles me that people are trying to decry this.
It's not a good enough reason to not form a union.
Pay is only one piece of worker treatment, and when you're talking about hard manual labour, it's really not the most important piece—workplace health & safety is. Doesn't matter how much you were paid while you worked there if you get killed or crippled because the employer skimped on safety, either in equipment or in allowing you to take your time on dangerous tasks.
Workplace safety is another. Greater autonomy is another; maybe these people want a 45 minute lunch break? Who knows? (Well, the workers know what they want...)
Another thing I've seen a lot, can't remember off the top of my head if this applied to Amazon too, is doing mandated security searches off the clock when people leave the job site. Imagine you're off at 5, but you don't get to leave til 5:30 because you're in a big line waiting to have your bag checked when you leave. Why should you be obligated to give the company that time? If they wanted, they could crunch the numbers and figure out what would cost them less, employee theft or paying for security checks, but they don't, because they can steal the worker's time at no cost to them. (And I guarantee you the security guards are being paid for that security check time, it's just the rank and file who aren't.)
Germany's got another thing I'd like to see here in the states, where the unions have a seat on the board and play a role in higher-level decisions as well. This is something I'd like to see even for high-paid tech workers, especially for morally questionable things like taking contracts with ICE -- there's been walkouts and worker organizing over companies taking contracts with ICE, but better still would be if the workers had a formal lever of power (in the form of a union) to stop that before it started.
Don't get me wrong a board seat would be great for preventing the company from pulling Gorden Gekko type shenanigans, it's just if the plan is to use it as a platform to further the progressive agenda than there's going to be some disappointment
And that US federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, $15,080 for a years worth of work. That is not a livable wage in almost any area of the country, especially the population centers the Amazon warehouses are located in.
In that sense $15 an hour is nothing to be proud of, from one of the largest and most successful companies in the country, run by one of the wealthiest people in the world.
I also would be shocked if your average construction worker or Starbucks is getting federal minimum wage, I have a feeling they are closer to $15 than you would think.
One question, do you work for Amazon? Your history consists solely of comments defending Amazon and their labor relations. If you do, it would be nice of you to disclose that before posting about your company.
And that's why it's great to hear that Amazon pays more than double that minimum wage, as I noted.
>In that sense $15 an hour is nothing to be proud of
I don't see how it's not. $17/hr is an incredibly high wage for the target audience of these jobs. $17/hr may be pennies for SWEs on HNs who think that anything under $100k/yr is oppression, but $17/hr for someone who was previously homeless, or a 16 year old getting their first job, or someone just looking for some extra cash part time during the holidays, is an amazing wage.
Amazon warehouse work is an amazing stepping stone for people that have no previous work experience or skills, for them to get a wage and benefits way above average. Indeed, Amazon even offers to pay for 95% of tuition costs for warehouse workers that want to get an associates degree, so that the warehouse work truly can be a stepping stone.
The fact that people far beyond their "entry level" stage of their career are stuck working in an Amazon warehouse seems like a problem with society, not Amazon, and there's only so much that Amazon can do there.
>I also would be shocked if your average construction worker or Starbucks is getting federal minimum wage, I have a feeling they are closer to $15 than you would think.
I didn't say they are getting federal minimum wage. And yet a quick Google will show you that Amazon warehouse workers get paid more than these workers.
>One question, do you work for Amazon? Your history consists solely of comments defending Amazon and their labor relations. If you do, it would be nice of you to disclose that before posting about your company.
No. My comment history is such because I use a special account specifically for posting about Amazon, because unfortunately this website has become very vitriolic as of late and I doubt some of the posters here would hesitate to try and ruin my life if I attached my main account and real name to statements defending "the evilest company in the world".
The COL is higher in Canada, but at least they have healthcare and worker protections. I'd rather be a Starbucks barista or Amazon warehouse worker in the CAN than anywhere in the US.
These 'citation needed' comments add no value.
And what does minimum wage represent? A livable wage? An inflation-adjusted wage? Some random number that has no basis in real-life living and expenses?
If you chose option C, congratulations, you probably won't be basing any arguments on a number that only represents (if it represents anything) the stinginess and or fossilization of American politics.
You can have good wages and benefits for this kind of labor without firing organizers, plotting to smear them as “inarticulate” in the press, and exposing workers to undue injury and disease.
Speak for yourself. The vast majority of complaints about Amazon on this forum are explicitly referencing pay.
I think the workers should be receiving more in hazard pay, but this whole round of controversy was sparked by their firing warehouse workers organizing for better safety, not pay.
Where do you work, BTW? Your account is about a month old and only seems to comment on stories about Amazon.
Your original reply to my comment was an overgeneralization, and used that overgeneralization to attack a point that I never made. I'm not engaging in your argument because it was made in bad faith to begin with.
Just think about you and your colleagues being seen with a very narrow dismissive lens.
I've never really liked "skilled" and "unskilled" label classifiers because it implies a relationship between compensation and skill. I'm aware you didn't say this but I see it far too often.
I've seen a lot of fairly low compensated work that I know for a fact I can't do. We need to stop dehumanizing people with 'skilled' and 'unskilled' labor. A lot of it just depends on what people choose to do and what demands happen to arise.
I acknowledge there's a full spectrum between they points (e.g. painting, where anyone can do it, but professional painters have many skills developed over years to make them both more efficient and with a better outcome).
Perhaps the problem with the label is that it's being attributed incorrectly? I don't think it's saying the person is unskilled in general, just that the person is unskilled in this job. There are plenty of instances where people that are skilled in one area but unable to find work in that area get a job in another area they are unskilled in to make ends meet, and I think those jobs are generally for unskilled labor. In those cases, they likely are unskilled in the job being done.
"We are now hiring for X. [Insert some pay, benefit information here]. Apply online. No interview required. Start tomorrow/this week."
At that point, you really are looking at 'unskilled' or at least 'not specifically skilled'.
It's difficult to push for higher wages or better working conditions when your productivity after 5 years is only 5% more than someone that started a month ago, but that's reality for unskilled work.
As it is I fully expect to hear talking points that "responsible" workers wouldn't strike or try to organize, or that there should be a law against unionization during national emergencies.
his party isn't in a position to throw up a challenger so the Rs are stuck with him, from my point of view: if desperate enough, who knows what he'll try?
I think it's at least quite plausible that the WH could try to do this since it aligns with their priorities, and that McConnell would be fine with it. The House, probably not.
On that topic:
For some, it was a plainly calculated choice. Thomas Peterffy, a billionaire who owned the largest estate in Greenwich, donated to Trump but never pretended to admire him. “When the choice is between two ideologies, then it’s a luxury to dwell on the personalities of the candidates,” he told me. “It’s a luxury that we cannot afford.” Peterffy, who made his fortune as a pioneer in digital trading, said that the choice was between “a high degree of government regulation or a diminished amount of government regulation, because, basically, that’s how the U.S. will get to socialism—increasing government regulation.”
Is that true? Increased tariffs, renegotiated trade deals (increased tariffs), attempting to tighten immigration, lowering taxes on repatriation of cash. Those are all pro worker.
Lastly, the repatriation of cash was a loss for everyone - companies that skirted tax laws got a gift in being able to reclaim a lot of cash they had been unable to access due to dodging taxes while also paying a much reduced rate... And I think that action happening again so soon is just a clear signal to companies to avoid actually bringing any money into the country until they can get a tax holiday to get it in for free - it's like your kid eating the cookie jar and you saying "Well, I'm going to dock your allowance thirty percent this week... And I will refill the cookie jar but don't do that again!" - we rewarded these companies for skirting tax laws by letting them skirt some more tax laws while wagging a finger and saying "Naughty naughty!"
If it's legal, it's not skirting the law.
> both sides of the aisle have been anti-labor
No argument here. But if we're comparing the current administration to (recent) previous, it's an improvement.
> Increased tariffs, renegotiated trade deals (increased tariffs)
Given the current situation where most production is offshored, this only hurts consumers in the short and middle term as there literally is no production capacity for most of the stuff that is produced in China (and other offshore countries), so the tariffs will be passed on 1:1 to consumers. To properly incentivize local production, tariffs would have to be so high that sum(offshore cost + tariffs) at least equals sum(cost of local production + extra cost of compliance with environmental regulation).
> attempting to tighten immigration
Did you ever look at which jobs have the most demand for immigrant (both legal and illegal) labor? It's mostly back-breaking labor: farms, hotels and bars, construction sites, medical (nurses and their unqualified helper staff). If tighter immigration would work out to help local workers, then Germany would not face a severe shortage of nurses or of farm workers or the UK a shortage of just about anything. The farmers complain "we can't get local labor as they're unwilling/unproductive or don't apply at all", but they never bothered to rise wages and working conditions (have you ever seen reports about what they call "housing" for the Romanian and other Eastern European slave workers?)... in the end, the "(illegal) immigration is killing our jobs" whine is only bullshit, it's underpayment that kills the jobs.
> lowering taxes on repatriation of cash
The mega-rich don't use that cash even when it is repatriated, at least not in ways that benefit the employees who made the riches in the first place! The only way I'd accept tax lowerings on cash repatriation is when said cash is at least partially redistributed to the employees.
I disagree. Almost anything made overseas can be made in the US, it's vast place. If you raise tariffs, that's going to hurt the largest international corporations and stimulate the local small to medium sized companies. Prices for goods would go up, but so would the demand for labor. Also, goods would be of higher quality and there would be less disposable consumer-culture, a win for everyone.
> Did you ever look at which jobs have the most demand for immigrant
Yes, I have. These 'back-breaking' labor jobs are also the most underpaid.
> it's underpayment that kills the jobs
I don't see how you can fail to realize the two are intimately related.
No it cannot, at least not in the foreseeable future as even for something as stupid and simple as a McDonalds Happy Meal throwaway toy there is no domestic supply chain in the US or most other Western countries. Corona makes rebuilding that supply chain even more impractical as you would need many, many dozens of billions of dollars (or euros) as an upfront investment and still thanks to higher labor costs and cost of compliance with regulations (environmental and labor) this won't be competitive for a long time.
> If you raise tariffs, that's going to hurt the largest international corporations and stimulate the local small to medium sized companies
Most "large international companies" are US-based. Also, large corporations can choose to at least partially suck up tariffs (either by cross-subsidizing or by cutting profit margins) and make up the loss by scale, while a small/medium trade company cannot easily do that.
That's true, but no rational economist or politician believes that tariffs are here to stay. They're a reflection of Trump's ideas rather than a recognized modern economic policy. Even then, Trump's goal was to combat China's policies, not create a long term system of import and export taxes to protect American workers.
As a result, there hasn't been significant industrial investment in the US. That's one of the problems we've had with Covid: the PPE, medications, and ventilators are all manufactured overseas. We've had to retool our auto manufacturers to spin up ventilator production. You'd be crazy to invest in US manufacturing since the tariffs look about as permanent as a White House press secretary. You know you'll be undercut and put out of business in just a few years.
Well, if you consider he canceled the adoption of the TPP, the Paris Climate Accord, and negotiated the MCA agreement, I'd say it was a series of long term changes.
Naturally, there's only so much the executive branch can do in isolation.
> You'd be crazy to invest in US manufacturing since the tariffs look about as permanent as a White House press secretary.
Right, need congress to act.
Has anything he's done for workers also disadvantaged his rich donors?
Amazon has been a subsidized american corporation servicing chinese interests for 2 decades; the US goverment recieves hundreds of billion in chinese bond purchases a year and for the privelage of having this subsidy the Federal government the federal government in turn provides a subsidty to amazon in the form of forging anti-trust prosecution against amazon for running a retail division that ran a loss for 2 decades while prosecuting wal-mart.
End of the day, best way to handle this is to make an app for it. People run it on their phones which everyone has, and they co-ordinate and vote that way as a single block and as seperate groups.
Targeting Amazon just because it's a household brand simply makes an uneven labor playing field - sure, amazon workers might get paid better after your protest, but J J Doe and Sons Glassworkers won't change their ways. Nor will the no-name Ebayers.
However, for me, I realized that
1) I am fortunate enough that saving fractions of my order will not make a material difference to me (the amazon cancellation page informed me that i had saved 140 dollars in shipping using prime over the last year)
2) In the current environment, supporting local and/or smaller businesses is more important to me than saving a day of shipping time, or 10% off my order
3) Even if your alternative retailer is equally unscrupulous to its warehouse employees, for instance, a shipper that uses UPS, which is unionized labor with benefits, as opposed to amazon's own courier service which is contract labor with no benefits, can be a meaningful difference.
For me, the above 3 made me realize that I could do without amazon prime despite being a prime member for 10 plus years. For household staples, I am a costco member, and I feel much better about costco's relationship with their employees than amazons. For other purchases, it makes sense for me to consider local alternatives. And I can always use amazon if I need to, I'll just pay shipping.
Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good. You can push for legislation AND cancel your Amazon Prime. Both are valid strategies for letting your voice be heard.
If an amazon worker gets paid and treated better, then other employers will need to do the same if they want people to choose to work for them.
If there is a purity test, to gauge your alignment with the internal company rules associated with every goods + service you rely on, then there needs to be transparency across the entire world economic landscape.
Why cherry pick? Just because media decided to bring it to your attention?
So you canceled Amazon Prime, everything else in your life was produced by some other entity. Do you go insane because you haven't vetted those sources?
If you want a better reason, it can be as simple as, Amazon is the 13th-biggest corporation in the world by revenue (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_companies_by_r...), and someone simply doesn't want to confer any further advantage to them or support that level of wealth concentration.
It's not cherry-picking unless you know that's the only company being avoided. In my case I've significantly cut my direct reliance on the top 12, quite unintentionally, just by
- not shopping at WalMart
- not living in China
- not owning/driving a car
- not using Apple products, and ironically
- using Amazon
Yep that's right, ordering from Amazon keeps me from being tempted to fall back on numbers 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 which are all petroleum and car companies. I guess I'm going on the theory that a delivery truck making the rounds to 20 people is more efficient and less damaging than 20 people driving their own cars to various stores. On the other hand, if it's me we're talking about, I would be biking to the store. So already I'm not totally consistent, and I might be further inconsistent tomorrow and decide to boycott Amazon, especially if they don't get their act together on the labor side!
Whether or not you feel it applies specifically to this case, that doesn't make sense to me.
> Why cherry pick?
You have to begin somewhere. You could always ask "Why begin here? Why not elsewhere?". A fine response would be "Why do you care? Where have you started? Oh wait, you haven't, and you aren't even making it clear you intend to. Bye."
Alternatively, "perfect is the enemy of good".
Are you quite serious?
With Walmart, people will both be mad at them and oppose their stores, warehouses, etc.
With Amazon, anger stops at stage 1 usually.
Plus there's a class aspect (People of Walmart) that made it easy for people to proudly say they're boycotting Walmart when they would never shop there anyways.
This was true maybe 4-5 years ago when Amazon was the "darling" of the online retail industry. Those days are long gone.
Google did a similar thing in November . This is starting to feel like a trend for tech companies reaching a certain level of size/maturity.
Now this may be a contrarian opinion, but I actually think this has the potential to be a good thing if you're on the side of workers. Here's why.
If you're organizing a union, trying to reveal "evil" projects, or otherwise trying to be a force for good in the company, as long as you're doing it on internal message boards everyone's still halfway-careful of what they say, and big movements/protests are less likely to happen.
But by shutting them down or forcibly moderating them, that will hopefully be enough of an impetus for employees to start using third-party forums, where they can "approve" each other through invites, and everyone can speak and organize freely (and with more anonymity if desired) and accomplish perhaps far more than they have so far.
As political scientists know, repression of citizens brings short-term stability at the cost of an increased long-term threat.
Obviously you can't know for sure... but this feels like the kind of thing that's going to backfire for Amazon (and Google), leading to more and stronger union organization, not less.
"We have always had the rule ready, in case we needed to start enforcing it."
There is good reason to have these discussions in a place where Amazon's management is not in control.
Blind is based in South Korea. (Disclosure: one of my parents is ethnically South Korean, and I have very high regard for South Korea and its citizens.)
Given the stakes involved with workplace organizing and the opacity (from a legal perspective) of a South Korea-based business, Blind may not be the right platform.
At the very least, some US workers may be reluctant to open up on a platform not subject to US labor law.
The lock down also signals weakness and insecurity. Amazon pays at least market rates and people want to work there. In case of a strike, they can hire new people with no training because workers essentially shop all day, a skill that is ubiquitously available
What do they fear?
As for discouraging unionizing via official company communication media, it probably has more to do with discovery and access than wanting to block the communication altogether. Of course they realize people can use Whatsapp, text, online forum, etc. The thing is there needs to be a way to discover a large community of workers on some other platform. That's much harder than going through a company directory or blasting out emails to entire divisions. They don't want to provide easy discovery and access to people who would potentially join a union.
That requires employees to sign up to a service and/or Chanel they don't subscribe, or try to jump-start communities from scratch.
These actions are targeted at censoring pre-existing communities that are naturally and passively formed.
Yes even your very employee-friendly workplace with image boards that would never stoop to those kind of tactics.
I think people forget just how precarious the ever growing precariat class is:
I suspect is the future of employment for everyone without organized labor fighting back for their own interests.
Money. Lots and lots of money.
Amazon also operates at a scale unimaginable for most of us, which I imagine is enough of an interesting problem for some people to look past everything else.
I'm starting to agree with this as well.
It used to be that organizations were made up of vast bureaucracies with a thinking, breathing, human being at every level making decisions. Institutions could be imposing and callous, but there was always a "flexible" human element to things. They never had the level of completely monolithic, soulless, hyper-optimized determinism that modern technologically driven corporations have become. Google was the pioneer here, with their default customer service stance of "go away, we don't care, there's another billion where you came from". But more and more the world has become an automated meatgrinder with no room for people beyond their immediate economic utility. The machines alone determine your worth as a human being, and unsupervised, uncaring algorithms can make or break your entire life.
If technology is simply used to displace and concentrate wealth and power through private ownership without adequately sharing the benefits of growth in technology with everyone (reduced labor, more free time to pursue personal goals, etc.) then yes, it absolutely isn't helping (basically the situation we have now).
Can a Star Trek like economy ever exist? I'd love to be apart of one, but it seems unlikely given many underlying human behaviors.
And a huge number of people just don't care about these issues like you do.
But if you’re working around minimum wage then it’s even more ludicrous to suggest they have the ability to turn down work for ethical reasons. I don’t think you have any idea how little money that really is.
And prices might be in CAD, but Canada has a higher cost of living than the USA. Some examples with prices in USD -- Rent on a dingy 1-bedroom apartment in a medium-sized city in Ontario will be about $800 USD/month. Gasoline is $3.90 / gallon currently. Chicken breast costs about $4 / lb.
And that's to be afforded on a $10 USD wage. The minimum wage here is not a living wage. Workers have every right to be upset with that.
>They are on the lower end of big tech salaries.
Amazon pay may be slightly lower than FB, Google, or Netflix. But the $150k entry-level starting pay that most of the corporate workers get is still so so so much higher than the vast majority of companies pay that it's laughable to imply that Amazon doesn't pay them well.
>And the vast majority of their employees are warehouse workers, and they are paid very poorly.
Amazon warehouse workers get $17/hour minimum and amazing health insurance (probably better health insurance than most of the American posters on HN) for a job that requires no experience, education, or really any prerequisites.
When compared with a SWE job like most HNers are familiar with, it's really easy to look down on $17/hr as "paid very poorly". When compared with skilled manual labor like oilfield workers, $17/hr is low. But when put into perspective that this is a job available to almost anyone, even those unable to get job elsewhere, $17/hr is a huge amount to someone who was previously homeless or to a 16 year old getting their first job.
Again for perspective, McDonalds pays on average half of what Amazon's minimum pay is. And yet I can't even recall the last time I saw a post lambasting McDonalds as being an evil company for how it treats its cooks and cashiers.
As for the rest; 17/hour to break your back is not a lot. And people have been lambasting the minimum wage for decades, and companies that pay it.
This is for most people a life-changing fortune.
Amazon loses pretty big on relative pay & ethics.
Also, as a general note "be humble oh employee for the gift you receive from your benevolent overlord" is a big part of the philosophy that's utterly breaking America right now - we need less of it.
Ideally the government would also be willing to step in and make sure ethical business practices are in place but they're out for lunch.
It isn't. Taking a job that will pay off your child's college costs vs taking a job that will leave them saddled with the debt is not an 'empowered' choice.
And, I feel like this is sort of what we get as a society and marketplace that doesn't value ethical or enforce business practices. There is no penalty for acting unethically and there is a profit penalty for acting ethically - so the top performing companies are likely to be those that decided to ignore ethics and pursue the dollar.
Google, for a while, was an exception to this rule by pure luck - they so fully dominated search when it was just becoming a thing you could actually monetize that they had bails of money they could use to operate ethically and at a large scale... but they've since course corrected to be an unethical as anyone else.
If we're going on "what is the most offensive thing I can point to about a company", it seems like Facebook and most hardware suppliers have that beat.
This seems pretty draconian to me, if it's true.
You wouldn't even need a human to do this.
It's easy to dismiss union organisation coming from the former side, but the real tragedy is the thousands of workers working in dangerous conditions. They won't get their union.
There are plenty of non-evil companies that will pay you well to do interesting work.
Even in your "FAANG" list, Netflix just makes entertaining videos. Apple makes pleasantly overpriced hardware and competes on privacy in software.
Apply to them, instead of ad-tech and sweatshops-as-a-service.
You should look up some of the ethical issues around cobalt mining , which Apple is at least indirectly complicit in.
Netflix famously made their culture documents transparent to much derision about their workplace being an unhealthy competitive environment. Relatedly, they're also arguably the most famous progenitor of the "unlimited-vacation-but-don't-actually-take-it-or-else" workplace cliche.