Welcome to Amazon’s American Sweatshops


[This is one of the great tragedies of Monopoly Capitalism’s race to the bottom… our fellow citizens reduced to slave labor peons with no one to represent their interests. The giant retailers, banksters, and energy monopolists MUST be broken up to free our futures from slavery, and import tarrifs imposed, to bring back decent jobs. -DS]

One Woman’s Attempt to Unionize Amazon

Inspired by the WTO protests, a demonstrator took a job in an Amazon warehouse to try and unionize the workers there

Occupy demonstrators are shutting down ports along the West Coast. For a movement that needs to show its strength and expand beyond city parks, it is a dramatic step that has many watching the news with bated breath. And yet, it has echoes in the past. In 1999, during the Seattle World Trade Organization protests, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union threatened to shut every port from Hawaii to Alaska if the city of Seattle didn’t let the protesters they had arrested out of jail. It worked. And for people like me, unions suddenly became relevant.

I had been at the WTO protests. I had watched hundreds of UPS Teamsters wearing shirts that said “Kicking Ass for the Working Class” march into the pepper spray and concussion grenades. The people I knew seemed unable to organize in groups larger than twenty-five, so the organization union actions made an impression…

Once, I saw a  25-year-old manager shout across the warehouse at a man in his fifties whose numbers had dropped telling him to “step it up.” But that was rare. Everything at Amazon was translated into language that respected personal identity above all else. No one was fired. They were just “not really a good match.” They were going to be “happier somewhere else.” And, after they followed their bliss out the door, a temp like me took their place…

Some managers who had been sent out to these warehouses and had expressed concerns were fired. So were the managers who cast doubt on Bezos’ plan for mechanization. A few of them wrote a heartfelt letter to Jeff one night, and that was the end…

But Bezos had been hiring Walmart executives for a couple of years by then, specifically so that they could redesign the distribution centers. Walmart actually sued him in late 1998, claiming he was hiring for privileged operational information about Walmart warehouses. They settled out of court but Bezos was ordered to move some of the ex-Walmart executives into other departments. The changes, however, were already in motion. The idea that “Jeff” was the good king away from the castle remained. It was one of the hardest things to let go because it meant what you believed in might be a lie and that’s a blow to anyone…

Complete story here



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