That's a pretty nice piece of leverage to have in hand while negotiating a settlement.
Edit: They were both UX/Design folks with Amazon, fired on April 10th, 2020. Costa was Amazon's first ever Principal User Experience Designer, and had 15 years with the company. Cunningham was a User Experience Designer and had 6 years in at Amazon. Guessing the settlement will be for a notable amount.
That said, I think highly-paid tech contributors do have the most leverage out of any other labor market participant right now. The more of us that don't want to work for anti-union companies, the better.
At one I was physically threatened with violence for being too productive and the other allocated work times/roles by seniority instead of ability. If you happened to not be friends with the union president, then you better really enjoy cleaning the bathrooms.
You seem to be under the impression that unions are always good and that certainly isn’t the case. I’ve had zero good experiences and I’m not keen to have another bad experience, thanks.
Granted, that might be exactly what Amazon et al are selecting for; but at some point, a company being anti-union will be a signal to prospective high-level employees that many of your potential co-workers will be entirely self-interested assholes and you will have to decide if such a work environment is for you.
I have seen enough actions by unions where the outcomes were detrimental to their members for me to believe that some unions are a net negative for their members.
Someone can choose to not belong to a union because they are a good person that just believes that a union is bad for everyone.
Edit: Disclaimer: I am not stating that I think unions are bad. However the few direct experiences I personally have had with unions have not been a clear positive for the members (as an employee or student, never as an employer).
Edit 2: Or you could just believe unions are net neutral, so be against joining. Because who wants to voluntarily submit themselves to an organisation or people they don’t believe in?
I agree that not all unions are fantastic, but staying on the sidelines when you could use your position to influence for the betterment of everyone is a very privileged, selfish act.
I think voting mostly works in democracies by being able to vote a party out after the government has abused us against our wishes and their promises.
In a first-past-the-post system, you often get to chose between two evils... Imagine you were forced to pick a partner for 3 years, one which you suspect will rape you and the other you think will beat you, and you must pick one or the other...
And that is ignoring the fact that usually nearly 50% of the people that voted, voted against the party they got. It is ridiculous to think that the ~50% that voted against a party deserve what they get.
That said, I like this version by H.L. Mencken better: "People deserve the government they get, and they deserve to get it good and hard."
Besides, if you’re in a working environment where people throw around terms like “total comp” and have mortgages denominated in millions of dollars, the self-interest ship has kinda sailed.
That sounds like a fancy way of saying, "I don't have an ethical responsibility to others."
It's not analogous to never giving people change on the street because you donate to soup kitchens and mutual aid orgs (or whatever). If you don't support unionization, you are effectively undermining it. This isn't meant to be some kind of woke purity test. It's just the facts of how a market operates.
Every individual that is willing to work without supporting a union, is an employee that hurts the power of that union, because that's one less unit of labor that the employer has to rely on the union for.
We have enough "with us or against us" going on driving violence to let more slide.
Consider a company for which programmers are fungible, and 5 programmers are required to keep the company running at full efficiency. If one programmer quits in protest over union-busting activity, all it takes is one other equivalent programmer on the labor market to agree to take the job. The existence of 1,000 other pro-union programmers in the labor market are completely irrelevant, as long as the company knows they can find one union-neutral programmer. Morever, the union-neutral programmer is equivalent to an anti-union programmer from the perspective of the employer.
It's "with us or against us" because of the nature of the labor market, not because of any desire to be toxic or exclusionary or whatever. This is literally the whole reason that picket lines exist. You're either a scab or you're not; that's definitional, not rhetorical.
No, I'm an unaffiliated potential worker. Scab is a derogatory term. It's not surprising unions are losing support with that attitude.
You're thinking you have a right to the job and that by not supporting you I'm taking it away. You don't though and from my point of view a union is a threat of violence (try crossing a picket line) and is one tiny step away from domestic terrorism. You're demanding to take a job that could be mine but you're not willing to negotiate to win it. Turning a free-market opportunity for me into a political struggle where I'd need to win my way into the 1000 through your support. No thanks.
Every little thing Unionists do is about punishment and control, you can't even not downvote someone's honest opinion. Imagine if your job was controlled by such politics and you had to kowtow to the right opinions just to keep it.
But if there was a union there'd be a never ending parade of shit I'd have to watch out for. Like having to pretend that we have to piss in bottles rather than using the washroom or else having my stuff vandalized and maybe being beaten in the parking lot. Unions use lies and violence to get their way, been there, had enough of that.
What was reasonable in the early 1900s against literal Pinkertons with guns, because of acid leaching into the mine in a company town a hundred miles from anywhere, is now ridiculous and you should try turning down work you don't like instead of making up these stories.
In summary: People don't usually form unions to beat others in parking lots, you know.
It's not the goal but when you've convinced yourself you're fighting the good fight I guess you take the gloves off.
Why, oh why, must socialists lie?
Re your source, 1) The verge is currently lying about the warehouse/driver distinction so their credibility is very low, 2) the claims were anonymous or second-hand, and 3) they aren't saying there weren't bathrooms - but that people were trying to improve their speed.
Literally nothing that supports the need for a union. Nobody claims to have a medical reason that they needed to use the toilet and having been forbidden, or even had pay docked. That would be illegal under OSHA guidelines and they'd have just reported it as such at the time. Courts are extremely friendly to these suits from workers but apparently they never actually happened.
> “From their point of view, we don’t have the right to be ill,”
Nope. Illegal. If that happened there'd have been a lawsuit.
> “I had a fit at work and was taken to the hospital. The next day, someone rung me and asked why I was not in work. I explained to them, but it was still marked, ‘no call, no show,’”
Um yeah, you didn't call or show. That you (may have) had a valid reason to leave yesterday doesn't translate into not having to let them know if you're coming in today. Not a valid complaint.
> But despite having legally compliant break times, workers noted they had to walk quite a distance from their main work area to the break area, which greatly diminished how much time they had left to rest.
If you're required to take your break in a designated area then the time to travel there is not part of your break. If some manager got this wrong and stuck to it, it's a reason for a complaint and a maybe a lawsuit which the employee would profitably win. Maybe this happened, but all companies can make mistakes and the fix is easy.
It's not that they can't just want to unionize. That would be fine. Pointless, but fine. What's not is the lies. Their case for abuse clearly has no merit.
That is where the neutrality is lost.
Edit: With them or they'll do anything from downvote you to set your car on fire. This is why people don't believe you, or support you.
Look at the modern intellectual arguing the equivalent of Wickard v Filburn. Anti-union would be going out of my way to lobby my government to forbid unions. Neutral is just not supporting you because I can't tell if you have a valid case or not. As for being a coward, that's the modern unionist screaming slurs at other workers and beating them up in the parking lot.
The sad truth is that original unionists, who fought for safety in mines, etc, are being conflated with marxists who are really anti worker.
Unfortunately facts don't care about our feelings, and no amount of sulking about it will change the fact that so called union neutrality is an anti-union position. Not only is it anti-union, but kind of a cowardly anti-unionism, at that. It's wanting to be both anti-union, while also wanting to accept none of the social consequences that come with that position.
Yes, we all breathe the same air. But at what point is you not fighting my battles with me reasonable disinterest - neutrality - rather than an active choice to hinder me? Clearly if you don't know me, and if you don't know the facts, etc...
I obviously reject it sooner than you, but if you don't reject it at some point then it's ideology and I reject that out of hand.
Now either explain the limit to that logic or turn yourself in to the police.
You don't seem to have realized that you aren't the first group to use these arguments and tactics, or how badly they fail. Sadly only after exacting great societal consequences though.
Neutrality can only be achieved by refusing to support both the union and the company.
If you are working for the company without joining the union, then you are supporting the company's anti-union efforts.
Remember, no one is forced to join a company just like no one is forced to join a union.
This might be true if you were describing a situation with three parties: a company, a union, and you - affiliated with neither. But as almost all unionization takes place after people have already entered an employee/employer relationship, the neutrality has been lost; you are, by default, on the side of the employer if you are not a part of the union, and having employees not in a union does weaken the bargaining position of the union since it's relative representation that matters.
> Stop changing definitions to suit your political goals.
Don't forget to call the kettle black, while you're at it.
Oh, sorry, you were talking about people having heart attacks while climbing the steps of the capital building. Never mind, carry on. Americans complaining about violence is like plants complaining about oxygen.
> your rhetoric has pushed me further towards unions being bad.
This sounds vindictive and selfish to me. I wish it wasn't this way. Personally I'd rather just play video games and screw around with Idris than get involved in labor disputes. But to turn against unions because someone who is vaguely pro-union said something that kinda offended you? Come on.
"So-and-so said something I don't like, so now I've changed all my political beliefs to be the opposite of theirs" is something real people don't actually do. It's more likely that their political beliefs were always the opposite of so-and-so's and they were just looking for an opportunity to admit it.
It’s not like any of us emerged from the womb with a strongly decided opinion on unions, but rather we developed one over time by deciding on the arguments advanced and whereby bullying arguments and behavior of intimidation often push people away from support.
I'm not the OP, but to answer your question: frankly, no - in general it seems to often be the case that the factual merit of an argument is not really important in influencing opinion.
That the argument you mention ("if you don't like unions, you're a selfish asshole") has any influence at all is proof enough of this; note that it makes no direct statement about the merit of unions themselves, and yet is presented as an example of an influential argument about the value of unions - and rightfully so, based on your reaction and the reactions of other people in this thread.
Furthermore, I think it's fairly naive to think that "we developed [our opinions regarding unions] over time by deciding on the arguments advanced," as though it were always a conscious process or that a broadly fair view of unions was widely disseminated with which to make an informed decision. After all, why would it be?
If I believe that and see someone pounding the table, I can make an inference about the ability of their position to stand up to scrutiny. I might be wrong in that inference, but IMO the lawyer with the facts or law on their side does their client a serious disservice if they choose to just bang the table.
If someone comes at me, attempting to persuade me that their side is the right one, but their persuasion style is to be adversarial and say I'm a shithead if I don't pick their side, I am more likely to reject their side.
This has little to do with the "facts are stronger" argument. I agree that many people do not pay attention to objective facts, and instead make decisions based on emotional factors. And that's exactly what would be happening here: this type of adversarial argument would give me a bad feeling, and I would reject it.
Beyond that, you can still make emotional arguments that use facts as their foundation. I would respond much better to something like "75% of your co-workers have shit wages, and a union can help them get fair pay; don't you want the best for your colleagues?" That sort of argument isn't all positive, as it tries to make the other person feel guilty, but it's a much better argument than "if you don't want to join the union you're an asshole".
> I think it's fairly naive to think that "we developed [our opinions regarding unions] over time by deciding on the arguments advanced," as though it were always a conscious process or that a broadly fair view of unions was widely disseminated with which to make an informed decision.
I don't think anyone's claiming it's a rational, conscious process. Very much of it can be emotional and subconscious. But the result is still the same: if you tell me that I have to "support the union or else", I will -- consciously and rationally, or subconsciously and emotionally: it doesn't matter -- gradually develop a negative opinion about unions.
I think this is the trap a lot of people (myself included, sometimes) fall into: they want people to evaluate their arguments on their terms, how they themselves would evaluate them if they were the recipient of them. But that's not how it works. People evaluate arguments in their own way (regardless of whether the argument is intended to evoke a rational or emotional response). If you want to make an argument, you need to focus on outcomes, not on your own personal preferences as to how things should turn out. Tailor your argument to the recipient. Sure, for some people the "you're either for us or against us" type argument might be the most effective. But it's not for everyone, and it can alienate people as well.
Yeah that's not what happened. The commenter in question clearly said "your rhetoric has pushed me further towards unions being bad" from the original position of ambivalence. If I'm being honest, I'm similarly ambivalent about unions and the rhetoric has pushed me in the same direction as well. It's not just this one comment that pushed me on its own, it's a small trend I've noticed in pro-union advocacy that I've noticed.
And frankly, whether someone's political beliefs have truly changed from such rhetoric is not very important, this kind of rhetoric poisons friendship. Political beliefs and movements need friends that actively support it, not people who quietly agree that something is probably technically true. Ever heard of "you're not wrong, you're just an arsehole"? Keep this up and you'll have a fantastic non-coalition of people who may quietly admit that you're right on some things but will never associate/support you or your movement. How you say something matters a lot, this is just the basics of diplomacy.
It's a remarkably odd choice to refer to OP's comment as "rhetoric" in this case given that the remark "it's not physically possible to be neutral on this issue" is a literal statement of truth.
Generally, neutrality implicitly supports the status quo; it's a choice like any other, whether you acknowledge it as such or not, and as OP pointed out it is literally true that if you have the option to be part of a union and you aren't, the bargaining power of that union is less than it otherwise would be.
I suppose you'd have to clarify what you meant with respect to your own decisions - have you ever even had the option to join a union? Because if not, then I could see how you might be able to see yourself as "neutral" as it's not an issue that has directly affected you. But if you did have a choice then presumably you made a choice one way or the other, in which case "neutrality" isn't something you can actually claim.
Maybe that does mean "you're with us or against us", but I'm pretty sure that kind of rhetoric only works to persuade people on the middle school playground, not in real life. At best, it will serve to convince weak-minded people who make decisions based on fear of being called names.
If you're going to try to convince me of something by telling me I'm an asshole if I don't agree with you, that's only going to push me away. That's just a fact, and if you want to convince me your opinion is the correct one, you need to focus on finding the argument that will give you the outcome you want, not the argument that lets you vent your frustration, even if "you're either with us or against us" is technically true. Because I don't care; if you're going to present your argument in that way, I'm very much fine being against you, even if I'd otherwise be sympathetic to your cause.
For the record, I'm fairly pro-union, though I do believe they can cause more problems than they solve in some situations. I'm commenting here because I'm really tired of people snatching defeat from the jaws of victory through self-destructive argumentation.
Unions have given corporate a new legitimacy.
The 'human abuse' component in unions is quite substantial. Internal groups tend to formulate inside unions capable of influencing decisions, leaving a minority without real representation (primarily new union members who don't get grandfather clauses, this minority becomes the majority with no power due to legacy senior union members; seniority is measured by hours worked, not expertise or merit keep this in mind).
Many times this abuse is for personal gain like getting the easier jobs or influencing the hiring process to get their friends/family jobs for example.
I make it my job to get chummy with senior union reps. By using my leverage to help a union rep get his cousin hired (through influencing HR or interviewing managers), I have shielded myself/the company from potential genuine grievances (forging allies). The cousin/whatever is probably aware of the game as well and knows not to rock the boat too, double-plus-good. This is more common than most would want to admit.
Another neat trick to controlling unions: once enough of the legacy employees, who can sway the unions decisions with their SENIORITY (the golden word), fall to your side all one has to do is hire lots of people who don't speak English. The legalese in most union handbooks is worded for lawyers really.
Older union guys don't care about the new blood to inform them what is and isn't okay. Being human they also appreciate that someone else is doing the hard jobs they don't have to.
Ever wonder why unions don't fight to make union handbooks easy to read? Because that would REALLY hurt corporate. Doctors and engineers are forbidden to unionize because they can read. Straight up.
Regardless unions are damaging to labour forces. They reduce efficiency, competence, shatter budgets, destroy the ability to become an entrepreneur (because money isn't tight enough gotta also pay union dues on top right?) and ruin any form of scheduling/time management arrangements. Once a bad culture sets in it is near impossible to root out (its easy for bad culture to set in when alcoholics can't be fired and must be given multiple chances; morale drops for the rest of the employees when they witness such things).
It's one thing to petition for humane working conditions, it's another to get paid for not working and boy did I see lots of the latter.
Don't listen to me, take a part-time summer (or night) job for the public sector with a union. Witness the absurdity yourself.
glad you feel safe enough to echo your opinions. it's important in championing dialogue.
I don't know if that really tracks, tho. You still have ethical obligations in your day-to-day business. As an extreme example; if your business is "I sell fentinyl laced heroin to elementary school children" isn't really something you can make up with any amount charitable giving.
But aside from that, I was making the self-interested argument that even complete sociopaths wouldn't necessarily want to work in an environment where "My coworkers can and will try to fuck me at the first opportunity" is a true statement.
Hopefully I'm paraphrasing/remembering correctly.
Concluding that you're "against traditional unions" just places you on one of the sides.
My point was supposed to be that a workplace full of selfish people would not necessarily be a deterrent to other selfish people, because the opportunity to be freely selfish might be worth more than the (estimated) risk due to being surrounded by selfish people.
When actual jobs and lives are on the line, and the penalty for losing requires most of the participants to give up your basic human needs (such as most of low-income wage workers, they don't have any fallbacks when they get scammed and go under), then things are going to be much different.
I do wonder if, at a certain extreme level of cheaterness/selfishness, there is a minimum level of self-confidence that causes a cheater to self-select into a cheating-OK environment.
It's an extension of the "survival of the fittest" mentality. If you believe you are one of the fittest, you might be willing to enter the survival scenario because you are confident that you will survive.
>If you set the business climate up in such a way that only permits fair participation and competition you're probably going to alienate a segment that would favor looser rules.
The converse, that rules which allow profitable unethical behavior (and therefore prefer such unethical behavior, since profit is the measure of success) are going to alienate people who want to play fair, is exactly as well supported by that observation. And all other things being equal, it seems better to alienate the cheaters than the fair players, which in turn argues for stronger regulation.
It just highlights that the people who want to cheat and make such arguments aren't arguing in good faith, they just want to cheat more easily.
That's an awful lot of words to say "screw you, I got mine".
Exploiters have it easy when the exploited see basic workers rights as "charity".
> It is only possible to see labor solidarity as "charity" if you are privileged enough to not depend on that solidarity.
Of course, accusations of privilege themselves are subject to pants-twisting and fits of downvoting moderation-flagging rage.
"Please don't remind me that I'm privileged because it makes me feel icky feelings so I will get ANGRY instead" seems to be a natural human reaction.
If this was true, why are the highest paid and in-demand stars and directors in Hollywood all still dues paying members of their unions?
> If this was true, why are the highest paid and in-demand stars and directors in Hollywood all still dues paying members of their unions?
I am trying to parse these two statements and here is my thought. Being a union member can never hurt as long as dues are reasonable. You can always negotiate a better deal but at least you will get a baseline and really if acting is your career, you probably care about more than just total compensation.
Here is what I found on Google:
> To join SAG, a performer must pay an initiation fee plus the first semi-annual basic dues. The national initiation fee rate is currently $3,000 (initiation fees may be lower in some areas). Annual base dues are $201.96. In addition, work dues are calculated at 1.575 percent of covered earnings up to $500,000..
I don't know if this is up to date but assuming it is, 500000*1.575/100 + 201.96 is just over eight thousand dollars a year. Even at USD 10k a year, I think it is a good deal. If I were a highly paid on-screen talent, I would not want to stir a storm in a teacup over USD 10k if I was making over USD 500k a year. It simply wouldn't be worth my time.
* Yes, there are small studios and some other ways of avoiding this if you only want to film in certain states, but if you want to earn the big bucks, you have to join the union.
Amazon has a 1.6 trillion $ market cap.
Which is the whole point of unionizing.
As an aside, I sometimes wonder if they could literally have qualified as a not for profit whose sole goal is to grow into new market segments and employ more people. Because if you take a wide angle view of it, that's pretty much all they ever do.
That's true if you only consider a few carefully-chosen tech corridors like SV and sorta-Seattle. Software developer wages in much of the US, Europe, and most of the rest of the world, are not that great. Usually enough to live off of, yes, but no where near what we in the bay area and a few other select locations are used to.
High wages without a union only come out of an even larger pool of profit for them to pay wages from.
It's the height of hubris to believe that an individual software engineer has the power to effect much in the way of change when it comes to wages and working conditions. Sure, we have orders of magnitude more power than someone working for pennies in a sweatshop, but we're nowhere near the point of calling the shots, or even bringing a significant amount of leverage to the negotiating table.
Sure, that's fair. I guess it really depends on the proportions.
I personally used to work at Amazon a number of years ago. I enjoyed my time there, and if my current work circumstances ever changed would have considered going back there.
Based on what I've seen lately from them, though, I would never go back. In fact, as a customer I've discontinued Amazon prime and won't order from their retail site again. AWS has me a little more boxed in, but I'm going to slowly look for more ways to separate from them there, too, over time.
I guess I'll have to fight my fights alone then.
From here on out everyone will be thinking "is this worth losing my job over, especially when I may have similarly serious concers about any employer I work for?"
Meanwhile, you have a reputation for bringing litigation against your employer; good luck finding a new job under those circumstances. Not impossible, sure, but many employers will no longer talk to you, and that decreases your negotiating power with companies that will talk to you. I hope the uncertain legal settlement is enough to make up the difference.
This is just another fine example of how employers hold even more power in the relationship than people seem to understand. If you need to sue your (now-former) employer, you've probably already lost the war, even if you do end up winning that suit.
When you're a company that makes 11 figures, spending 7 figures for a 1% increase in profits is a hundredfold ROI. They're not expensive, they're a bargain.
Also making a person's life miserable at work is something a person can easily document over a year or two and then bring that lawsuit, so that's not a great option either.
As activists, they may be balking at NDA or non-disparagement language, rather than at price.
From Amazon's perspective, the NDA/non-disparagement part is probably incredibly valuable.
I wouldn't mind being an activist employee if I know that not only do I stand up for what I believe in, but there's a reasonable chance it will result in enough compensation for an early retirement. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
I wouldn't do it without caution and it does require funds on my end, but I'd still do it. That said, Amazon will likely engage in prolonged litigation, to minimize the benefits.
Activists often get a free pass. So long as they're saying the "right thing," the press covers for them. Since anyone can just put out their slate and become an "activist," this creates a situation where random people people are given enough power to abuse and basically no oversight.
What if we had a society where Doctors got a free pass? What if there were no qualifications, and random people could call themselves doctors? So long as they're saying the "right thing," the press covers for them. Since anyone can just put out their slate and become a "Doctor," this creates a situation where random people people are given enough power to abuse and basically no oversight.
We have historical precedents for this. What you get are the moral equivalents of wild west medicine shows.
Further symptoms: When you start giving [X] a free pass, you'd start to see a degradation in the follower's understanding of morality, ethics, and fundamental principles which have far-reaching game theoretic consequences. These consequences aren't that easy to understand, so we'd expect to see people do shortsighted things which bring about those consequences. One would expect to see an ethos of totalitarian obeisance in [X] groups replace an ethos of free inquiry. One would expect to see forms of bigotry and the shallow judging of people by surface characteristics, sneaking in while disguised as other names. One would expect to see some scummy people who latched onto the moniker of [X] for a variety of reasons, who later on show their true colors.
One would expect to see the behavior of the mob.
Presumably the companies think they’re getting a reasonably good deal out of firing the organisers.
Some activists are genuinely speaking truth to power. Some are exploiters. Some are somewhere in between. There need to be checks and balances. The fundamental right of free association isn't so bad a place to start.
The exam isn’t fair so we should believe someone who has a lived experience that makes them a doctor (with a claim to insurance/government payments to their practice) or something like that.
Meanwhile, kids in China are learning the skills to invent the actual, real future.
That is not a final determination, though: the piece of paper that Cunningham and Costa held does not say that the NLRB will find that Amazon did engage in a ULP and exact a penalty. It merely says that an NLRB attorney will represent Cunningham and Costa in resolving the matter.
That's a pretty big difference.
The reach of the executive branch has extended far beyond what is healthy for the nation of the United States.
I'm pretty sure no one wants to start a dispute almost guaranteed 0-1 before an appeals court that may or may not be sympathetic to your plight.
Even in Boeing's case, which was incredibly high-profile, they decided on an a very expensive settlement rather than fight the case.
Isn't that how things usually work? If one party does something illegal, then the other can offer a settlement using the threat of other legal action as leverage?
I believe this particular settlement, especially the one for Costa (based on Principal title and 15 years tenure), is going to be a very big number. It's also terrible timing for Amazon with all the anti-trust sentiment and gaffes in the warehouse union situation. I imagine they really want this to go away.
Same here: the government intervention is in the form of a legal proceeding, it's just one that takes place within NLRB channels rather than in the judicial system. It doesn't mean the NLRB has made up its mind about whether a ULP was committed.
This isn't like a law firm threatening to sue if they don't settle.
> Amazon has fired two employees and asked a third not to return to work, after the group organized a virtual event for warehouse employees to speak to tech workers at the company about its workplace conditions and coronavirus response.
> The two employees who were fired on Friday, Maren Costa and Emily Cunningham, had in late March circulated a petition on internal email lists that called on Amazon to expand sick leave, hazard pay and child care for warehouse workers. The petition also asked Amazon to temporarily shut down facilities where workers were confirmed to have the virus so the facilities could be sterilized.
This is how you get stuff like Kickstarter being "unionized" to force management to keep online violent anti-conservative campaigns that were violating the ToS. It's got nothing to do with conventional labor protection of the sort unions were historically meant for. The only similarity is that it's about capturing institutions from the inside to take them over without having to actually buy the firm or get into management directly, except you don't even have to strike or win an employee vote. You just make yourself unfireable and spend 100% of your work time on self-aggrandizing political activism.
If this stuff keeps up the already bad reputation of unions in the USA will get drastically worse, as they won't even have the classical workers rights arguments to fall back on.
"Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, is using a heat map to track stores that may be at risk of unionization"
"a “diversity index” represents the racial and ethnic diversity of every store. Stores at higher risk of unionizing have lower diversity"
In October 2020 Google, Amazon & 44 Tech Companies Sued the US Govt Over the H1B Visa Ban
European countries make up only 2.8% of the H1B intake.
What we've seen from Amazon's anti-union efforts this round is that they are not sophisticated enough to be pulling some kind of machiavellian plot.
If unions are going to work in America, they have be able to navigate a diverse group of people. The American working class is incredibly diverse, more than the country itself. It's a challenge but it's not insurmountable. But the left/union approach to diversity and the corporate approach are completely different from each other and have different material motivations.
For instance, diversity programs are invariably justified by reference to needing a diversity of perspectives or ideas. But the resulting personnel policies are never about ideas, they're always about gender and skin colour. In fact the typical diversity program often results in hiring lots of ideologically homogenous people.
That disparity between claimed goals and actual goals invariably makes it appear like there's some sort of hidden agenda at work.
Study the working class movements from the mid 19th century to the 1970s. Look at their coalitions and demands.
Study the woke movement of the 2015-2021. One was pushing for collective unity and demanding concrete rights, including healthcare, working hour limits and unionization rights. The other wants to fire racists and change language. Which would you prefer if you were a corporate board member with the interests of your company at heart?
Which is more of a threat, a movement that demands corporate tax pay for a single payer healthcare model, or a movement which demands we make it easier to fire people accused of racism?
"Concrete" things like healthcare reform, voting reform, policing reform, tax reform, immigration reform, and women's rights have been front and center. You'd have to be looking through a very distorted lens to not see it.
I don't know why I am responding, but I'll continue with another one, Nike. Nike has for decades been the subject of human rights criticisms of their factories abroad. That's bad PR. So they went woke by taking public stands on racial stuff within the U.S. That's good PR.
You can say I know what I'm doing (which is arguably a personal attack implying nefarious motives). But you don't seem to understand the point, not at all!
Please, please do a little reading on the labor movement and don't put woke in scare quotes like it is not a thing. A local politician here has a pin, Stay Woke. It's a real term.
And once it does, one of the most major lines exploited against economic and social progress becomes much more difficult to exploit.
It's rare in the economic left to reject identity politics entirely (outside of some wretched nazbol twitter types), because people like CTH, Adolph Reed, Mark Fisher, Barbara Smith, Bernie Sanders, etc. all recognize the need for navigating identity in left movements. Where they reject neoliberal identity politics is in accepting a need for a greater collective goal.
Case in point: Vox writers, who eventually unionized, spent years publishing articles arguing for laws limiting the gig economy, like this one:
"The gig economy has grown big, fast — and that’s a problem for workers" 
Three years after the above article was published, its agenda succeeded, and a new anti-gig-economy law was passed in California. That law in turn forced Vox to let go of hundreds of gig economy freelancers, thus reducing competition to the full-time journalists who used their media platform to lobby for the law:
"Vox Media to cut hundreds of freelance jobs ahead of changes in California gig economy laws" 
Nobody? Certainly, not the person you're responding to. This comment _almost_ feels like a non-sequitor to me. Someone saying to "keep something in mind" is _not_ them calling it a crime.
We're already pretty far down that path; too far, IMO.
Isn't that what any company should do?
I would like to think that a "good" company should also consider other factors like when they make a PR statement (things like: "is this statement a lie"?). I'd certainly have a hard time arguing that a company should lie in a PR statement, even if it appears that such a lie would be in their interests.
You'll also have issues with companies paying someone to join the unionization effort to spy on it. That's not insurmountable with proper designs, but it makes it a lot harder to assist with organizing when you have to silo users from one another to prevent espionage.
That's probably solved by having a union or a nonprofit develop and run the app, instead of a for-profit company.
Is seems like the default assumption is for-profit companies are the best vehicle to accomplish any task, but there's a lot they just can't do or can't do well.
> You'll also have issues with companies paying someone to join the unionization effort to spy on it. That's not insurmountable with proper designs, but it makes it a lot harder to assist with organizing when you have to silo users from one another to prevent espionage.
Yeah, that's harder problem, but it's an issue that needs to be solved for any such effort. Maybe you could have some kind of validation/referral type feature, e.g. refer your coworkers anonymously, and part of on-boarding they verify a list of people and their roles, including the initiator. You could probably structure it so every person gets vetted, but it's unclear who started the process .
 e.g. initiator refers the effort to 10 coworkers. You have a list of 11 potential employees. Send random 3-worker subsets that together cover all 11 to each referral for vetting of employment location and title. At the end of it, you should have some confidence that you can filter out bogus people and management. Though you still have the problem of snitches and spies who actually work the job.
The second problem is harder... maybe the tech could be designed such that nobody, including the makers of the app, could see the list until/unless a quorum is reached? I can't believe I'm saying this, but could the blockchain be useful here?
You're trying to get a majority of people to feel like they have a personal stake in improving the material conditions of others. It's not quorum algorithms, it's not apps, it's not encrypted communication platforms. The hard part is organizing people.
That's the hard part of most things, to be fair.
My employer should never look at my personal phone, for any reason.
You'd expect the NYT's to give both side's at a minimum, or is Amazon a cartoon villain ran by a duck who swims in a silo of gold coins?
“We support every employee’s right to criticize their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against our internal policies, all of which are lawful,” said Jaci Anderson, an Amazon spokeswoman. “We terminated these employees not for talking publicly about working conditions, safety or sustainability but, rather, for repeatedly violating internal policies.”
Ms. Anderson, the Amazon spokeswoman, said the company disagreed with allegations made in Mr. Bailey’s case. “We are proud to provide inclusive environments, where employees can excel without fear of retaliation, intimidation or harassment,” she said.
> After Amazon told them that they had violated its external communications policy by speaking publicly about the business, their group organized 400 employees to also speak out, purposely violating the policy to make a point.
So, Amazon fired then for publicly speaking about the business. Their statement saying that it was for violating internal policy seems deliberately misleading, because the internal policy that was broken was to not speak publicly. That Amazon had a policy against speaking publicly is not a point in Amazon's favor.
Not to defend Amazon, but on this point, every job I've ever had included a policy that amounted to "do not speak publicly about the business."
Do others think this is unusual?
> In a memo released on April 15, the agency evaluated a case where a company maintained a policy that prohibited employees from speaking to the media at any time. The NLRB found this rule to be unlawful and explained: “Employees have a statutory right to speak publically about their complaints or concerns with their terms and conditions of employment, including to the press, without employer authorization.”
> In other words, employees have a right under the National Labor Relations Act generally to discuss their employment – including with the press. Based on the finding that the policy was unlawful, the NLRB also found that the company violated labor law when it terminated two employees pursuant to the policy for speaking to the media about a workplace issue. A more narrowly tailored policy may have passed muster, but the broad media prohibition, in this case, crossed the line.
 This would have some pretty obvious 1A implications.
You say this like it's a bad thing.
a) As an employee, you are not allowed to make statements about internal matters on behalf of the company.
b) As an employee, you are not allowed to talk about internal matters outside the company.
If A, then I have no problem. Companies have PR teams and random employee #13554 might not have all the information about an issue.
If B, I have a huge problem as the first amendment is a thing that exists.
If engineer #34529, profiled liked to SpaceY says on Twitter that his group has lots of overtime. He could be fired in a case B situation. And yes, information like that could be coupled with other information to figure out what projects the company is working on.
It is my belief that confidentiality agreements and NDAs, along with non-compete clauses are overbroad and expand beyond what companies are allowed to ask of their employees.
Perhaps, in doing so, that journalist would discover that Amazon had no real argument for any internal policy being violated at all. Or perhaps they would discover that these employees did, in fact, violate some internal policy, whether or not their firing violated their rights.
Maybe after presenting all sides of the decision, an NYT reader might agree that the NLRB's decision was correct/valid; but with the way the article is written, it's impossible for that to happen.
Since they’re a public institution their decisions are published for anyone to look up, read, and understand the rationale behind their decision.
It seems NYT got the scoop on this particular case but you can expect the decision to be posted on the NLRB site when it’s finalized. I suspect the NYT (and the person who tipped them off) does not yet know the reason for the Board’s decision. It’s very likely no one involved in this article has read the document yet and, for now, they’ve only been informed as to the outcome. NYT, Amazon, and the aggrieved parties will probably have to wait to read the Board’s written decision along with the rest of us.
> now disproven legal theories
Disproven? According to whom? The whole point of the press is to show its work to the public. Maybe you're correct that it's disproven! But I would have no way to know how/why it's disproven as a NYT reader. Anyone that wants to demonstrate to voters that Amazon's legal theories are disproven needs to show their work.
Though, in the NYT’s case, they’ve been predictably going straight downhill since they adopted Fox News’ high level strategy of chasing, fanning and profiting from political and social polarization.
So, nobody’s holding their breath that NYT would rise to that challenge.
Do you expect the NYT to publish every failed, specious motion filed in standard court cases in the name of "both sides" after the case has been decided? No, you take statements from both sides, and report what the legal system has decided.
As a reader, I am interested to hear exactly how Amazon claims these former employees violated its internal policies. The article's lack of curiosity is interesting.
Amazon's POV is explained directly in the article. There's also this link  from the article elaborating on the firing.
News doesn't do that anymore, but more importantly, Scrooge McDuck is not a villain.
30 years ago, I would have had that expectation from NYT and other trustworthy media sources. I haven’t had that expectation for at least a decade now.
>Amazon told the employees that they had violated its policy against solicitation, which forbids Amazon workers from asking their co-workers to donate to causes or sign petitions.
The article is part of a briefing with a headline about the airline industry, somewhat understanding how you would miss it.
That's a funny euphemism for "statement written by a corporate PR person who may not have any clue about what they are talking about, and may be repeating someone's lies."
This kind of “both sides” journalism has been weaponized by bad actors to the point it does a disservice to readers. They use it as a way to inject talking points into the public discourse. I think the last 10 years have showed us that there are definitely some points of view that are more valuable than others, and that treating all points of view as carrying equal weight is a false equivalency that simply creates openings for bad-faith actors (and Amazon is hardly the first company / politician to act in bad faith).
Or am I just being to too naive?
US has unfortunately been union-unfriendly since Reagan.
This got further cemented when the USSR was formed, and it actively supported many left winged militant organisations in europe. This was used as leverage by trade unionists and social-democrats to demand further rights (or else the militant forces will get into power and things will end much worse for the establishment).
This dynamic only really changed right before world war 2, when stalin (and other USSR leaders) focused on a policy of "socialism in one country" instead of a the dogma of a worldwide workers revolution.
I bet they’ve done all kinds of risk calculations around increasing benefits and decided they could stop there. Personally, I hope their calculations are wrong and the workers unionize anyways.
Amazon warehouse jobs are physically demanding and damaging (which should carry a premium) and extremely optimized to negative downtime (which should carry a premium). (Employees are required to do work while off the clock, walking between work area and break area, and waiting in line for security checks).
The government can lower the supply of labor willing to work for low wages by offering a basic income, pay for people’s education, etc.
The government can increase the demand for labor by decreasing the number of hours needed to reach overtime (per day and per week), mandating vacation time and parental leave, etc.
All of this, however, very explicitly increases government expenditures requiring tax increases and clearly shows the wealth transfer, so it’s politically less popular than trying to foist it onto select businesses.
There is a push to raise federal minimum wage to match Amazon's minimum wage, but for now they are paying a hefty premium everywhere in the US except Washington D.C., the only US state-like entity to yet match it.
Sometimes we forget that all these amazon warehouse employees could take jobs as cashiers at slow stores and similar such easier opportunities, but choose not to.
With Amazon's massive investment in robotics and other opportunities for automation, they think they can become exponentially more efficient. At that point, a non-unionized workforce will lose that goodwill and be slashed into a fraction of its current size.
In an ideal world unions shouldn't have to be anti-automation, because people should have access to other sources of income (yes I mean income, not specifically employment) if they lose their jobs. This way we aren't holding back technological progress to protect people from poverty.
I have no idea what that ideal world looks like, maybe it's not possible. But I do feel uncomfortable with the idea that automation is somehow inherently anti-worker with no opportunity for reconciliation.
The dirty secret is that Amazon basically already has the best salary/benefits for the job types that are looking to unionize. This isn't entirely true, but very close. Warehouse work is not well compensated anywhere and Amazon's $15/hr min wage plus really solid benefits is pretty much comparatively incomparable.
If true, then it follows that Amazon would reject unionization as the union would claim some controls over human resources. Amazon's interests might be in alignment with a union part of the time but anytime it does not the presence of a union means that Amazon has lost a degree of freedom for action.
I know little of unions - but my impression is that the unions often overreach human conditions with business decisions. In that case, having people without business experience making business decisions.