Today, people can tour these old towns and learn the history of how the coal companies trapped and abused workers. A lot of unions and labor rights groups came out of the abuses that occurred in Appalachia.
There was an episode of South Park last season where they played this song as a backdrop to Amazon workers in a warehouse.
0: The album was released in 1947 prior to the introduction of the 12" LP, so it was originally released as a literal album of multiple 78rpm singles. It is one of the first concept albums.
And this is why a strong opposition is important. It makes oppression much more difficult.
0 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsa_race_massacre#Attack_by_...
> A far better documented incident occurred in southern Illinois in Williamson County in November 1926. "Bloody Williamson" had already garnered national notoriety during the 1920s as the site of labor unrest among coal mine unions, one of the bloodiest Ku Klux Klan wars in history, and gang warfare between two rival groups of liquor bootleggers. The Birger Gang, led by Russian immigrant Charlie Birger, and the Shelton Gang, led by brothers Carl, Earl and Bernie, had been involved in a bloody turf battle for domination of the southern Illinois liquor racket for several months. Their ever-escalating arms race had evolved from shotguns to tommy guns and even homemade trucks covered with armored plate used to shoot up each other's roadhouses.
> The warfare turned particularly violent in November 1926 as a series of shootings, bombings, and destruction of property caused terror throughout the county. Upping the ante once again, the Sheltons embarked on a bold plan to destroy the Birger Gang hideout, a place known as Shady Rest. They approached a pilot on a barnstorming tour and coerced him into taking a member of the gang on an overflight of the Birger roadhouse. On 12 November 1926, gang member Blackie Armes climbed aboard the old Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" biplane carrying several bombs, each made out of dynamite sticks bound around a bottle of nitroglycerine. While passing over Shady Rest, Armes lighted and dropped three of the devices. Only one exploded, missing its intended target and instead killing Birger's favorite bulldog and pet bird. Though initially stunned, members of the Birger gang fired back but did no damage. The shocked pilot flew back to the airfield, let the gangster off, and then immediately took off again, probably fearing for his life!
The Haymarket Affair  which occurred in 1886
>Labor Day has conservative roots. In 1894, President Grover Cleveland pushed Congress to establish the holiday as a way to de-escalate class tension following the Pullman Strike, during which as many as ninety workers were gunned down by thousands of US Marshals serving at the pleasure of railway tycoon George Pullman, one of the time’s most hated industrial barons.
>Cleveland was wary of the response to his actions. He signed Labor Day into law a mere six days after busting the strike.
Here's a really short video of what used to be a "company town" in Appalachia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBCxG_SCnQE
One of the host's grand dad was paid in scrip until the 1970s.
That's a great video.
Got another link?
It also maximizes the number of people paying into the insurance pool.
Does your government have due process? If it does, how would that government use an obligation to provide you health insurance against you to influence your decisions?
People quit jobs far more often than they quit countries, and employer provided insurance does tie you to more strongly to your employer (e.g. I knew someone who needed a heart transplant who would literally die if he went without insurance, because he depended on a heart pump).
Also, you have to get insurance/healthcare from somewhere, and in a democracy the government is far more accountable to its citizens than an employer typically is to its employees .
 This is very clear in the typical case, but less clear for people with rare in-demand skills (like software engineers).
>>When leasing the sites, the union had selected locations near the mouths of canyons that led to the coal camps in order to block any strikebreakers' traffic.
Blocking strikebreaker traffic amounts to using violence to obstruct others' freedom of movement.
Strikebreakers were often assaulted and sometimes murdered.
The fundamentally coercive nature of historical striking activity is heavily glossed over, and modern day anti-free-market ideologues go to extreme lengths to try to justify it.
If you think about it, work is just a business deal and wouldn't be possible for employees create some kind of company that deals with the companies they are employed? Pretty much like an agency, I guess.
It can have open plan offices in a cool neighborhood, pay politicians and all.
Just have centralized Emlpoyers information management system where information about employers, like salaries they pay business they do, the good and the bad to work there etc.
So when you are getting a job you apply to your not-union and they tell you what to expect and how much to ask. No more guesswork.
It’s like an HR that works for you. So it’s BR, businesses resources.
Fine, throw a bug bounty program.
Anyway, the idea is to have a coordinator that work on your benefit. Companies, even the large ones are simply people coordinated by the capital owners.
The not-union is a coordinator for the people who are not the capital owners but those who deal with the capital owners.
The aim is to assist for a fair deal through information, not to extort the capital owners.
This sounds similar to "the aim is to be good, not bad".
Your assertion does not lie on facts but on your personal moral interpretation and even prejudice against a label.
Unions are organizations whose aim is to represent workers and defend their best interests with the company's representatives.
Sometimes the company's goals are in direct opposition to the workers's best interests. How do you expect the negotiations to go if the company plans to strong-arm and coherce their workers into submissions.
If the unions actually do the things that you describe and people are happy with it, they should opt out for unions.
Historically, yes, sometimes.
Why would you share your "not-union" membership with your employer? Instead, use it as a coordinator between your peers to prevent being underpaid and overworked do to information disparity you normally have in your relationship with you employer and if you get screwed it turns out you have access to lawyers.
Something of that sort.
To prevent this, you'd have to get your "not-Union" to either have huge solidarity, or lobby the government to make that a protected class.
Maybe if you went for the first you could make a song about it, how about "Solidarity not-for-finite-periods-of-time"?
You’re going to negotiate with the knowledge in par with the company that is interested in having you.
Knowledge is power.
- France is bacon.
Unless companies conspire not to hire you in order to depress wages.
It's why some companies will try to find ways to fire you if you share your salary.
Without the threat of collective action, the idea is toothless.
In the current situation, companies have access to this and employees don’t.
What problem with unions are you trying to solve here?
It’s owned by a trust or something similar.
have you read Godfather?
Populist tough-guy shakes down businesses to get back at The Man or some such.
Plus unions in the US have often been infiltrated by organized crime.
It has a Twitter savvy CEO a it’s mission is to make the world a better place.
It's an incredible story of capitalism gone mad. Areal bombardment and poison gas were used against the miners and it did not end well for them.
Here's for you: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25291778 (another reply here that explains)
I don't mean that it's irrelevant, strictly, but we hear more of these than 2020 tales, 2020 strategies and concerns. This is 100 year later, and despite of how many union die hards see it... most workers aren't likely to buy int a centuries long struggle. They're interested in their own lives & jobs.
1. Their own struggles aren't new: companies have been trying to fuck workers over since time immemorial, and
2. There is a well-known solution to these problems: unions.
Are you working 16 hours a day, barely able to afford rent + food + utilities, and slipping further into debt every day? It doesn't have to be that way, and we have a really good idea, based on historical facts, about how to fix it.
yes it provided the employees that were still employed with greater protections, but it is not the utopia you seem to believe it is
Did unions improve the lives of members? They certainly did where I come from. American labour history is more complex (union corruption and take over by organised crime seemed to run deeper)
But then i can also point to examples where they did not, where they ended up driving business out, bankrupting people
Where unions are more focused on their own political power than helping workers
Or even if in general the union helped the "average worker" the collectivist nature of unions means not everyone will be better off. For example Seniority, and "personal connections" are often more of a driving factor in Unions than merit or work performance. In fact highly efficient hard workers are often driven out of unions or forced to "work slower", etc.
The answer to this is not airy theorizing or anecdotes but statistical evidence. There are many people who do this. See for example figure 9 here:
The coal miners were mostly Irish and German immigrants and African Americans. They all joined together and brought about changes that workers still benefit from today. People in 2020 can do the same.
Maybe NPR is missing something from the original article, which I couldn't find linked, but come on.
> We need to note that Amazon is an NPR funder.
The original Motherboard article  is extensive. The NPR version is deliberately incoherent.
> You actually believe that Amazon has editorial control over NPR and specifically exerted that leverage to make this article incoherent?
You don't have to have editorial control to have influence.
For instance: how smart would it be for you to complain about your employer in public forums under your own name? People call that "biting the hand that feeds you." So even if you have a legitimate grievance or have witnessed clearly unethical behavior with your employer, maybe you decide to keep quiet because you need the money from your job.
Your employer just influenced what you write without having any editorial control over you.
Related, newspapers are historically unprofitable. Why would someone like Jeff Bezos buy the Washington Post? Like any investment, he expects some kind of return. And the return in this case clearly isn't direct revenue.
For a different take there is a YouTube series from “Crash Course” on “media literacy” that I suspect goes over this, but I haven’t gotten that far in the series yet.
And then there’s also Michael Parenti, another author who has written and has YouTube talks on the subject.
Either way I just want to say it’s not wild conspiracy theory. It is an established body of work people are talking about here.
> That lack of awareness has led to some embarrassments in the past. Online spots from America's Natural Gas Alliance once ran next to a series on fracking, for example.
So it's not a stretch.
Some excerpts that I liked (keep in mind, these are out of context, which is largely focused on why we should keep a very close eye out):
> Companies are most interested in getting their name before NPR's audience. They are, in other words, more interested in you than they are in NPR's journalism.
> The staff that sells sponsorships does not contact the newsroom to ask for coverage favor for a corporate client. To do so is a firing offense.
> Companies and marketers almost universally know not to ask journalists for coverage favors in return for sponsorship and advertising. To do so would be an insult—like asking a professional journalist to be a prostitute. It would invite distrust and negative coverage. It also would undermine the independence that attracted NPR's coveted audience in the first place.
> "Rote disclosures of every connection to a sponsor would not only clutter our programs, and be rendered meaningless in the process, but would also require producers to have an awareness of our corporate supporters that could actually be counter-productive and erode our firewall."
NPR routinely runs editorial pieces that were pitched to them by corporate sponsors or their fronts like think tanks. They likewise have have discussion panels featuring these groups' talking heads. Listen to a few episodes of Marketplace if you want the most obvious corporate propaganda imaginable. Their impartiality is laughable.
It is produced by American Public Media, which is a branch of Minnesota Public Radio (and Southern California Public Radio).
Perhaps you meant "US public radio" in general, but said "NPR". They are not equivalent, however.
NPR, despite what the parent linked, does almost nothing to police these conflicts.
If you say "American public radio", do you also include Democracy Now? Do you include shows produced by other local stations, including the ones that do not get distributed? NPR is not the totality of "American public radio".
Understanding the structure of public broadcasting in the USA is critical to understand why it works the way that it does. NPR is a distinct organization, even from CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting), even if its sensibilities are echoed in other public radio organizations (like MPR/APM).
As for your points about Adam Davidson, I don't find that shameproject.com page particularly persuasive. It's clear that Davidson's worldview does not align with that of the people/person who wrote the page/manages the site. I don't find this particularly remarkable or even particularly interesting. Davidson's worldview doesn't really line up with my own either. But there's a bunch of stuff on that page (the quotes in particular) which lack context, and a lot of other stuff that consists mostly of deeply subjective assessments and assignment of motive to Davidson without much evidence.
There are many other reasons I find it hard to take NPR’s claims of impartiality seriously, but this one is so glaringly wrong that it speaks for itself.
You mean NPR's business news show? That's what business news is, right?
When contrasted with something like Marketplace, which ceaselessly and glibly spins the darker realities of our economy to somehow be “upbeat” or “positive,” the difference becomes more obvious. And this is an editorial and ideological choice made by NPR, pursuing this framing.
I expected better than NPR. They could have just said "like asking a professional journalist to be a PR agent".
— npr, probably
Geez, guys. There's so many good reasons to go after Amazon; you'd think one of them would be enough, but nooooo.
(1) That poll is from July 2018, and while that's technically recent, in terms of news about big tech that can affect perceptions, a lot's happened in the last two years.
(2) According to the poll, Amazon was the third most-trusted institution among US Republicans, just behind "military" and "local police", and was the second-most trusted institution behind the military across all respondents. I think you're putting more emphasis on partisan affiliation here with respect to Amazon than the data warrants.
There have been sporadic reports for about a year of major hiring/contracting related to internal security and union activity. EG: publicly posted positions that said the "quite part out loud," anonymous whistleblowers and some leaked docs.
I think this article specifically relates to a report by motherboard a week or two ago where they got emails leaked to them from Amazon's "Global Security Operations Center."
Here's a better article by Vice. They Pinkerton hire seems to have been confirmed by amazon spokesperson.
"Internal emails sent to Amazon's Global Security Operations Center obtained by Motherboard reveal that all the division's team members around the world receive updates on labor organizing activities at warehouses that include the exact date, time, location, the source who reported the action, the number of participants at an event (and in some cases a turnout rate of those expected to participate in a labor action)"
I know there are other old companies, but Pinkerton is one of those that just sounds old fashioned.
“Secret Amazon Reports Expose the Company’s Surveillance of Labor and Environmental Groups” https://www.vice.com/en/article/5dp3yn/amazon-leaked-reports...
Edit: Previous discussion here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25189167
On the surface it sounds smart and world-weary. As an actual part of a conversation, whether something is expected is pretty orthogonal to whether, say, something would ideally be done about it.
I suppose it is relevant to whether something makes good content, but hopefully most of us aren’t here primarily to comment on our judgment of content marketability
I think the most common place I see it is with surveillance conversations
Though I should note that I’m not seeing those comments towards the top anymore, so that’s good
> What did you expect?
Well, geez, I don't know basic human decency probably? Are we all so numb to asshattery that we're not surprised or upset when we learn about someone using power to hurt or control the little guy?
This should also be on the list of annoying conversational tropes.
> On the surface it sounds smart and world-weary. As an actual part of a conversation, whether something is expected is pretty orthogonal to whether, say, something would ideally be done about it.
Yeah, it's pretty much just a lazy dismissal of the issue, and maybe even an attempt to jam up the discussion.
Though my employer users AWS. I don't have any swing over that sadly.
But for my own money, no more Amazon.
This was another motivation for going with DO: there's just less of it. Less to learn, less to get lost in. We've got a couple of juniors on the team who are brand new to actually having to get the software they write to run in production, and I don't think the AWS control panel is a very good place to send someone like that.
Most people are too lazy to look at another store.
I get that. But... 2020 isn't 1920 or even 1980. Fresh eyes might see more clearly.
To the advantage of union organisers, mass communication and organisation is a lot easier today. Surveillance is easier too. IDK. Yes, Bezos does not want an amazon union and won't just let it happen without a fight. Same as always. That said, if people want to hear what an amazon union organiser has to say... it's almost impossible to stop it.
I don't think the central factor here is Pinkertons. Union organising is the actual determinant. If they can get enough amazon employees interested, they'll probably succeed regardless.
Which is, if I recalled correctly, illegal.
So that it's pretty costly for the ruling class to push ordinary people around. Not that they can't, I mean they still control the army and police so technically they can still do whatever they want, but in reality it's going to be very expensive, financially and politically to push people around if ordinary people possess both qualities.
Retaliation against employees is illegal. Shutting down a unionised facility is not.
In reality, bezos and any future amazon union are opposed to one another. That's a pretty firmly embedded truism in union thinking too. No point getting outraged over the trite.
Also, this is not even amazon getting serious yet. Imagine what happens when/if amazon union organisers ever make a credible effort.
Even if they do do it illegally, the justice department has to be motivated to go after them. Which, with a Biden administration that is close to Bezos is unlikely:
These workers can't really rely on the justice Department.
Entirely legal in a "Right to work" state.
I can't believe people here people here manage to justify this abject behavior as "business as usual". This is not normal, not legal and shouldn't be accepted.
But that's a double-edged sword. It's also an advantage to employers and businesses. And recent history has shown they have the advantage: they been successful at thwarting union formation (see Wal-Mart, the movie American Factory, etc.) and even labor laws (e.g. Prop 22).
That's neither here nor there. The point I was disputing was the idea that changes in mass communication technology gives an advantage to unions.
However, to your point: your phrasing "using communication to persuade people...to vote for your side, that's called democracy," obscures some important distinctions. If your success at persuasion stems mainly from the greater power you have to project your message (e.g. via wealth), then that's arguably not actually very democratic. That's pretty easy to see when greater political power is used (e.g. the CCP suppressing dissenting voices and successfully persuading the people with a thick blanket of weakly-opposed propaganda), but there's a similar dynamic when one side can greatly outspend its opponent, since wealth is a kind of power .
For a union vote, the employer typically has both greater wealth and greater political power: it can blanket the workplace with anti-union messages and require employees to repeatedly attend anti-union "education" sessions during work hours (which is typical before a union vote), while the union organizers have much more limited access, and must try to reach employees outside of work.
 this is an area of tension in liberal democracy, where trade-offs need to be made.
"If you didn't want to be spied-on, you wouldn't try to unionize"? Really?
For those of us who are working from home due to the pandemic (or other reasons), we don't have any way to communicate with our co-workers except via electronic channels that can be logged.
Pre-covid, one could reasonably expect that if one were to mention unionization in conversation over lunch, there wouldn't be a permanent electronic record of it. Now, it's just not something you can discreetly discuss with someone unless you have their outside-of-work contact information.
That said "communicating via electronic channels" is not an insurmountable problem. It could be turned into and advantage. If union organizers post a letter, video or whatnot... amazon employees can see it. If people want to sign up to an unsurveiled "stream," they can.
The reality of secrecy and anonymity are what they are. Amazon are feisty, but they aren't the KGB. Secrecy is hard, probably unattainable. Anonymity is doable, but not default. Circulation is easy, assuming recipients are into it. etc.
Its equally easy to be disappointed and show some virtual outrage via social media. To me if office workers are not putting their money where their mouth then it is not of much consequence whether they are disappointed or world weary.
edit: I invite downvoters to let me know why they disagree, besides "capitalism good"
Or at least that's been the general sentiment I've seen in many of the Tory strongholds in the counties surrounding London.
"less government!"... when it comes to limiting the power of capital, and redistributing its profits to society
"more government!!" when it comes to squashing dissent to capital and existing hierarchies
it's not really a contradiction, it's part of a consistent authoritarian ideology ruled by capital and other oppressive social structures, but it is outwardly hypocritical and often goes against the interests of the people who parrot it
It's a very nebulous term. Does it mean free markets? Does it mean private ownership of the factors of production? Does it mean laissez-faire? Does it mean economic organization of a professional manager class, with management separated from ownership, and ownership characterized by tradeable claims on assets?
Don't assume that others are naive, imprecise, or uninformed about what capitalism is and how it affects the world, just because your own understanding of it is limited.
Wow, what a time saver I wish I had known about that earlier.
If you want to get started learning about it, I recommend looking up Richard Wolff
I don't believe that capitalism is a nebulous concept because I am not informed about it. I believe it is a nebulous concept because I have actually witnessed people in arguments using it to mean different things. Some people consider capitalism as simply a rhetorical foil to Marxism. Some people consider capitalism an economy that while capital is private, the economy may be mercantilist. Others insist that free trade is part and parcel of capitalism. Etc., etc. That's all I meant.
And there's a (not small) difference between bad faith and sarcasm. And tossing around Dunning-Krueger after one extremely shallow interaction is the height of irony.
Your original comment was aggressive but I admit quoting Dunning Kruger, while not misplaced, was also aggressive and escalatory.
Who is being forced?
If Amazon went away, would their situation be better or worse?
I believe that as a society we must ensure that people have enough money to live, but why should the employers on the bottom of the skills spectrum be forced to bear the brunt of it?
Every employer should be required by law to provide a safe workplace free of discrimination and harassment. But hiring unskilled workers at a market wage doesn’t make you a bad actor.
> Every employer should be required by law to provide a safe workplace free of discrimination and harassment.
And who is going to sue when they are underpaid and have no other job options available? Litigation is time consuming and expensive and rent won't wait.
> But hiring unskilled workers at a market wage doesn’t make you a bad actor.
No, but artificially preventing the market conditions (wage + others) from raising by blocking people's basic right of association will make you a bad actor.
If not, what is your answer to the quesiton "why are they doing this job at all"?
Because they have to do something, and this is the best they can do? Then "have to do something" is the force, and they are the forced.
You say "who is forcing them? Why don't they quit?" and yet ... they don't quit, and you (apparently?) think there is no reason why.
I don't think the force is a single person or company. I think it's the economic and social system we live in has become (intentionally or not) tuned to keep as many people as desperate as it can, because those are the kind of people who will work longer and harder for less money.
registered an account just to inform you what an utter crap of a statement you've made there. since i've bothered thus far, i made it a point to review more of your presence here. the conclusion i've come to is you are quite the twat. in a most general sense - a cunt of the dunning-kruger variety.
They don't have a right to combat them at all. Union organizing is literally a human right. Of course ownership doesn't want them -- the feelings of ownership are (supposed to be) irrelevant.
This is simply not true. Amazon have a right to argue against unionisation in order to combat it.
The specific human right is usually referred to as "freedom of association". You can read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_association
You need something more than freedom of association to justify unions, rooted in the recognition of bargaining disparities between employers and employees.
We're moving away from areas where I'm confident I know what I'm talking about, but I think as a society we've decided that while anti-competitive laws do infringe on the rights of business leaders, we're trying to balance their rights with those of everyone else, and the laws are necessary to prevent a permanent class divide between business leaders who cannot be challenged, and workers under them. In the long run, allowing complete free association among CEOs would limit the freedoms of the rest of society.
Society is a constant project of balancing various conflicting rights, and this is one of many cases where we limit the rights of a few to defend the rights of many.
That's something the libertarian left and libertarian right surely agree on - minimising the application of the monopoly of force and all that.
So you assume both employers and employees can freely organize and associate. That's your starting point.
Now - we've decided that the right to join a union should be protected (it evens out an existing power imbalance) and that collusion to force down wages should be illegal (because it amplifies an existing power imbalance to the detriment of society at large)
Fast forward many decades later. This is a right you and I both enjoy. (This is also why we both have time to shitpost on HN.) If there was a serious proposal to take it away, you and I would probably be standing side by side on the street demanding our rights back.
It’s easy to talk a big game about human rights when your rights aren’t on the line.
By looking into the declaration of human rights: https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
FWIW, You can pick out any other number of declarations of human rights and the right to form and join trade unions is in them. It's very widely considered to be a human right, not some fringe thing.
Obviously not. Real-world cases in point:
* Firing people for being queer
* Firing people for objecting to sexual harassment
* Firing people for going to the bathroom
"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"
This is, legally speaking, a meaningless document.
In the US they could improve working conditions to the point that employees are happy with the status quo. Unionisation efforts are typically driven by employees who are stressed by unhealthy/unsafe working environments, employee mistreatment, or poor pay. We see the opposite of this in the tech sector, where decent pay, safe environments and plenty of benefits leads to a rather union hostile attitude.
> Or should companies just accept and work with any union that forms?
If we accept that unions act to address the power imbalance between employees and employers and unionisation is mainly driven by employers exploiting that power imbalance then I think it's both good for society and in line with the spirit of the laws that exist in many places that make various forms of union busting illegal.
So yes, companies have to accept it.
Unions are a way to negotiate a better deal than the legal minimum for unskilled labour.
Are they though? There are a plethora of activist, legal, legislative groups focused on both working conditions (often on narrower groups, like say migrant farm labor) and minimum wage issues would probably argue this.
Obviously working condition protections are much better than they were before 1950s-ish, and the existence of a minimum wage is greater than zero (where applicable). But neither of those inherently meet a bar as fuzzy as "decent".
That's right and most of their work in Western Europe is helping workers enforce the law.
What I was taught was that generally most older countries already had established police forces that wouldn't allow groups like the Pinkertons to exist by the time the union movement came along where America didn't and instead their police actually came _from_ groups like the Pinkertons.
But I'd take that with a grain of salt given that it was second hand summarized information even when I first got it.
England and the rest of the Anglosphere adopted what are often called "Peelian principles," focused on policing by community consent, 50+ years earlier than that.
From Time's "How the U.S. Got Its Police Force":
> The first publicly funded, organized police force with officers on duty full-time was created in Boston in 1838. Boston was a large shipping commercial center, and businesses had been hiring people to protect their property and safeguard the transport of goods from the port of Boston to other places, says Potter. These merchants came up with a way to save money by transferring to the cost of maintaining a police force to citizens by arguing that it was for the “collective good.”
> In the South, however, the economics that drove the creation of police forces were centered not on the protection of shipping interests but on the preservation of the slavery system.
With regard to police originating from strike breakers, that's also true.
> For example, businessmen in the late 19th century had both connections to politicians and an image of the kinds of people most likely to go on strike and disrupt their workforce. So it’s no coincidence that by the late 1880s, all major U.S. cities had police forces. Fears of labor-union organizers and of large waves of Catholic, Irish, Italian, German, and Eastern European immigrants, who looked and acted differently from the people who had dominated cities before, drove the call for the preservation of law and order, or at least the version of it promoted by dominant interests.
> police forces in the Northern states are obviously not derived from "slave patrol remnants"
This is a common misconception that the north was "free" even as the south kept enslaving people. It's true that the north also had other economic forces influencing its policing, but the Fugitive Slave Acts gave plenty of legal cover for anyone wanting to make a buck by finding "escaped slaves" (often just whatever black people they found) in the north.
What if I run the most worker-centric paradise, with employee empowerment, great wages, benefits and conditions?
And what if the national organization of an umbrella labor organization considers my non-union workforce as a threat to both their budget and their political power? And what if they provide materials and advisors promoting unionization, despite the fact that they are acting in the interest of the union organization itself, and not the workers they hope to represent?
Now your strawman benevolent dictatorship could never exist since you would still be denying workers control over their workplace. Thus they may form a union to fight for that control.
None. This is a legally protected right.
This isn't a true statement.
Companies are allowed to argue against unionisation. In the US isn't it even a constitutionally protected right to do so?
Here (Italy) unionization is a constitutionally protected right. My employer can try to persuade me not to join one, but is absolutely not allowed to retaliate against me if I do, discriminate basing on union membership, etc.
Yes, and isn't this therefore an example of 'tactics that are ok for a company to combat unions'?
They could do the same for their warehouse employees, but that would mean paying them very well and giving good benefits.
I suspect if amazon paid 2x average box packer wages and gave good breaks/benefits, unions wouldn't have much traction there, either.
The parallel isn't crazy (the economics might be, I haven't analyzed)
It's also not that feasible to pay developers $120k/yr as the rest of the world has found out, America manages it for a number of reasons and because of this you likely won't see developers unionise any time soon even if you guys do have some very questionable contracts.
Yes, because why the fuck would you side with the party that has power (the employer) over the side that usually doesn't (the employee)?
Won't somebody please think of the companies? :'(
A search for "Amazon working conditions injuries" on DDG or Google will return many of those, but also follow-ups by many media houses considered to be reasoned/reliable, rather than rabid and ranting.
Anecdotal, perhaps, but these anecdotes are there in significant numbers.
It really sucks that we decided to bring back indentured servitude. Good thing those unions are there to help the worker and not just some parasitic middleman who sees an opportunity.
Who is forced to work in Amazon's warehouses? Is Amazon rounding up people with guns everyday to make them work there?
This exact transformation already happened with Wal-Mart in the 80s and 90s. Obviously no one is literally forcing workers to go to Amazon's warehouses but you can see how in essence this leaves them with no choice (i.e. forced).
Newegg is a better place for parts, why use the Amazon stores for B&H and Adorama when you can .. just go to the websites for B&H and Adorama?!
I wrote this a while back. Amazon's has turned into a platform that's basically killed all the other parts sites and competition we use to have:
Your theory could obviously be valid as well.
The quality, variety, convenience and price of goods available to me all improved. The Mom and Pop who had been financing their lifestyle on the backs of the rural poor were forced out of business. I feel a little bad for them, but it seems wrong to elevate them over the rest of the population.
Millions of people went from self-sufficiency to being desperately poor and without homes because their land was privatized by governments that were in cahoots with industrialists.
You want to know terrible working conditions dancing with a sign for 5 hours a day in the sun when it's 90+. I did that for 3 years and was happy to do the job, mind you this was only 10 years ago so it isn't forever. I made 7.50 an hour. I would've killed to get a job at amazon back then.
People are getting payed $16 that is incredible for an unskilled labor position.
That's one view, but it's only informed by "the way things are". Another view is based on the way things should be, that no one should have to work for less than the wage it takes to live a reasonable life. https://livingwage.mit.edu/ offers values for this.
I don't see why someone should work full time and still end up poor.
no offense, but this assumes too much about a person. you could make minimum wage $100 an hour, and there will still be poor people because some people make bad decisions. (not even taking into account that that would cause massive inflation etc). just giving a person $100 an hour doesn't guarantee they won't end up poor, as evidence by all the professional athletes that made millions and ended up bankrupt
another note, your link above gives massively different outcomes based on life situations (1 adult, 2 adult, 0-3+ kids etc). Do we need to make minimum wage such that it works for 1 adult with 5 kids who somehow got there with no skills whatsoever such that they are still working for minimum wage? Some people make poor choices in life, and we can't just raise minimum wage to a point that makes up for that. It's simply not possible.
Now, we can talk about other safety nets, such as a universal basic income, and universal healthcare, etc which I'm 100% for. The gov't should help these people, they shouldn't force small businesses to pay people more than the value they bring to the business. This is just picking winners, amazon will get bigger, and small businesses will get killed. Let the free market decide how much people are worth in the market to a business, and let gov't help keep people out of poverty.
Why should the government have to bail out business that can’t afford to operate?
That “agreement” to work for the current price is compelled by the threat of hunger and homelessness. It is not a fair and free agreement when one party has all of the power.
The very very very very least a company could do is pay all of their workers a living wage.
World average is 18K, that's adjusted for purchasing power parity. 32K is at least 2nd quintile, maybe top. Poland is a little less than 32K average, Japan is around 38K, OECD data from 2019. Somewhere between Japan and Poland is where the average worker starts to be poor. Interesting.
And that is at the present time, every generation going back to the invention of agriculture had it worse. Someone making 32K a year - PPP adjusted - is in what, the top few percent of all humans that have ever lived? Poor bastard. Learn to code.
In the same way that if everything is about politics, nothing is about politics, if everyone is poor, no one is poor. And if these people aren't making a living wage while making what the top few percent of humans have ever made, how did our ancestors manage to live and have children on a sub-living wage? Shouldn't they have died out?
I think in this case, "living wage" is just a propaganda term. "Poor" is too I guess. I guess maybe that propaganda term works on people, "living wage". It seems to be effective propaganda, seems to be working. I just cringe every time I read it. Adjusted for inflation, I made $7 an hour working in a factory. Decades later you're going to tell me that isn't a living wage, more than twice what I made back then wasn't a living wage? Was I lucky to survive?
That's bullshit by the technical definition of bullshit, and its propaganda.
Anyway, these arguments usually split people into two camps, people who worked warehouse or factory jobs before, and people who haven't.
Then focus on the right problem which is cost of living.
Focusing on salary doesn't fix the problem when you have markets that are heavily housing constrained and massive government meddling in education and healthcare that drive up the cost of both well in excess of inflation.
Increasing wages without addressing housing shortages, just puts more money in the pockets of landlords as those higher wages drive up rents.
Whether someone gets $1 or $2 matters not if you can buy the same amount of stuff with it.
In the overwhelming majority places in the country $16/hour is decent amount that goes a long way. That's over $40k at 50 hours a week. That's enough to live on your own in most places. If you have roommates, it goes even further.
The problem isn't the $16. It's the circumstances in very very few geographic markets where $16/hour isn't enough because cost of living is out of control in those few markets.
> That is good however to claim that he should get the same privileges and standing as his brother who spent years working hard giving back and making better long term choices is asinine.
Nobody is complaining that minimum wage isn't the same as a software engineering salary. Just that the floor is too low.
Unless you think all minimum wage earners are ne'er-do-well convicts with multiple DUIs?
on the other hand, if you are in high school or college, minimum wage is likely fine as it's just extra spending money. raising minimum wage significantly more than likely just kills these jobs in favor of a kiosk that can do the job just as well.
if we want to make it so that everyone can live, that is a job for gov't with things like universal healthcare, universal basic income, social safety nets. forcing businesses to pay people more for a job than the job creates in value is not a solution. in the long term those jobs will just go away completely to a technology solution.
give people a safety net so that they can not be in poverty, but don't force businesses to pay more than the market says a job is worth. kind of a silly argument on a post about amazon anyways, since they pay well above minimum wage, and in fact have campaigned on raising it (not out of the goodness of their hearts mind you, they want to put small competitors out of business and they know they can't afford a large min wage hike like amazon can)
This is true, but becoming less and less true. Today there are all sorts of jobs that used to provide a living wage, that don't anymore. With no college and limited training, you could hire on at an assembly plant and make enough to support yourself. These types of jobs are getting scarcer and scarcer.
It's not always bad life choices. Sometimes it's choices life has made for you. Meaning: you were born in the wrong ZIP code, with the wrong parent(s), and sent to the wrong school. Choices other people made for you, rather than decisions you took the wrong path on.
> on the other hand, if you are in high school or college, minimum wage is likely fine as it's just extra spending money. raising minimum wage significantly more than likely just kills these jobs in favor of a kiosk that can do the job just as well.
This is a really hard aspect to design for. I agree that we can't require that all jobs pay enough to support a single earner's ability to rent an apartment, feed themselves, pay for a car, auto insurance, healthcare, etc. If that were the case, I would never have found work in my teens and early 20s.
> if we want to make it so that everyone can live, that is a job for gov't with things like universal healthcare, universal basic income, social safety nets. forcing businesses to pay people more for a job than the job creates in value is not a solution. in the long term those jobs will just go away completely to a technology solution.
I could not agree more. The labor market become so much freer when these things are taken out of the employment equation. My employer should not be anywhere near my healthcare. The way we allowed ourselves to tie those 2 things together is one of the greatest drags on our economy, and for labor mobility and opportunity.
If we had a UBI along with healthcare, I could see minimum wage being thrown out altogether. Employers would offer what the job is worth, and workers would work for what they value their own time at.
raising minimum wage makes this worse, not better. even more jobs will be automated by technology removing even more unskilled labor jobs
>This is a really hard aspect to design for. I agree that we can't require that all jobs pay enough to support a single earner's ability to rent an apartment, feed themselves, pay for a car, auto insurance, healthcare, etc. If that were the case, I would never have found work in my teens and early 20s.
>I could not agree more. The labor market become so much freer when these things are taken out of the employment equation. My employer should not be anywhere near my healthcare. The way we allowed ourselves to tie those 2 things together is one of the greatest drags on our economy, and for labor mobility and opportunity. If we had a UBI along with healthcare, I could see minimum wage being thrown out altogether. Employers would offer what the job is worth, and workers would work for what they value their own time at.
(although I have to say that I found that part: "but spends several years "finding himself" aka partying, drinking and generally not doing much" kinda funny...)
A "living wage" means absolutely nothing unless you define the expectations.
When I first moved to San Francisco in 2011, I was living on less than $300/month or so for 8 months or so. I slept on an air mattress and ate rice and beans prepared weekly from 25lb bags because it was cheaper that way. I spent less than a dollar a meal.
What expectations do we have that people learn to be frugal? Here's someone who lives in the SF Bay Area for $7000/year:
It's actually not hard to live on these wages if you're smart about how you spend your money. The only cost you can't really escape without moving is the cost of housing, and if you don't fix that problem, any increase in wages it just going to be temporary relief until housing prices correct.
That's not middle class in traditional class terms (petit bourgeois) based on the manner of interaction with the capitalist economy, but it's pretty much requires being “middle class” by the modern American broad income categories standards, where middle class is the middle income category.
That seems extreme.
No, I'm saying that people who are below the middle income category (as that adjusts locally) often cannot reliably, securely "afford someplace relatively clean to live, feed themselves, afford heat in winter, etc.". I'm not saying that they should accept that, just that if you are advocating for a living wage, you are, in fact, advocating to move the floor up to something that fits what is commonly styled "middle class" income currently.
I guess one factor here is "middle income range", if well defined, will move if the floor is moved. In things like this, distribution is also very important.
And I still call Amazon "horrible working conditions".
The fact that it is better than being poor isn't saying much.
(And to forestall the inevitable adjustment of one's pince-nez to well-actually: that it'd be median or even above-median wages somewhere else does not mean that it is not poor in America, nor that the two situations can be reasonably compared.)
It’s purpose is to establish a level at which poverty is 100% ensured.
Being below the poverty line means you are certainly poor. Being slightly above the poverty line means you are very probably poor.
What tracks are available for Amazon warehouse workers who want to move up?
I’m working on a book, or books, on the subject. It seems surprising to people that something happens called poverty with less than a certain level of income, that makes things get extremely hard and require great care to recover from. I was on track to get off the street and nearly did last year but faced a setback, and the pandemic threw a big wrench in my system this year (which is adapting, harder mode). My working budget has been $55/day or $375/wk or $18k/yr.
It felt like you see yourself as a victim. I've been out of work before, but I never saw myself as a victim or powerless. I knew what I was worth and yes, it does take a lot of work, but I found work based on my own skills and merits.
America is increasingly growing into a nation where we cloth ourselves in victimhood as virtue. We are literally in a space where no-body is in the office today. You could pick up a $130 ~ $160k job anywhere and move out to a suburb in Texas. All you need is half-decent Internet, and you'd basically be living as if you were making the $200k you had in The Valley.
Stand up for yourself. If you only see yourself as a victim, that is all you will ever be.
You're talking to someone who is homeless, who probably hasn't been able to bathe in a while given the pandemic, and who is probably wearing clothes that they've slept in for several years now.
Yes, there are employers that will hire people literally off the street, but they aren't hiring for $130-$160k IT jobs, they're hiring for manual labor jobs without benefits that are probably off the books and can't offer steady hours.
We should of course be mindful of whataboutism when discussing these things but I think it’s a good idea to consider the economic and social context when talking about these issues, they don’t exist in a vacuum.
Deflecting criticism with "some workers have even more upsetting conditions than these" doesn't help either party, moreover it actually shuts down an important discussion relevant to both. We shouldn't tolerate any business crushing dissent the way Amazon does; that's what is being discussed here.
This discussion isn't explicitly about the working conditions of Amazon, it is about the highly unethical methods they use to crush dissent and workers organizing, namely the leaked documents that detail actions including the spying on workers suspected of organizing even outside of work by the Pinkertons.
This isn't the 19th century, this deeply upsetting and unconscionable behavior should not be tolerated in the 21st century.
10 years ago, warehouse conditions were the same or worse as they are now except you would be lucky to get $16/hr without a forklift operator certification or some other credential that made it more than just 'unskilled labor'
While dancing with a sign in the sun does lead to heat exhaustion risks, it's unlikely to lead to permanent disability, which seems like the inevitable outcome of working at an Amazon warehouse for too long.
> On June 10, the Oregon Health Authority announced a COVID-19 outbreak at Amazon's Troutdale warehouse that has now lasted 25 weeks and infected 97 people with the virus, making it one of the largest workplace outbreaks in Oregon.