Amazon is one of the biggest online retailers. And their wealth has increased during the pandemic. The company and Jeff Bezos, the CEO, have both gotten richer. Amazon workers are warehouse workers, drivers, essential workers. Moreover, they work long hours for very little which is why they held an election to unionize in Bessemer, Alabama. This election was historic because workers were fighting for their right to a living wage and better working conditions. At the start of the pandemic, workers were given an additional $2 to their wage. However, Amazon has since eliminated those $2 from their paychecks, which is outrageous.
There have been reports that Amazon has tried to intimidate its workers throughout the election. Amazon even placed a U.S. postal mail box in front of their warehouse to pressure workers to mail their ballots from work. The results were disheartening. 738 voted for the union and 1,798 voted no. Amazon challenged 505 votes while also spending millions to defeat the election. Even though there were not enough votes to form a union, what Amazon workers have done is incredible. They stood up to a powerful company and motivated their peers to work together to have their demands met.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union states Amazon illegally interfered with the vote. As a result, they will file unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board. Basically, the fight is not over. Amazon had no right to interfere with the election. The company should have spent their time addressing their workers needs rather than intimidating them. Amazon does deny claims of interfering in the election and intimidating their workers. It is nothing new for companies to mistreat their workers and ignore their claims. As long as companies keep making money, that is all they care about. Companies can say they take actions to protect the safety of their workers. But if they did, workers would report a different story than what we are hearing today.
Amazon’s working conditions
Amazon workers only receive two fifteen-minute bathroom breaks. Unfortunately, this is the entire time it takes them to walk to and from the bathroom. Last year, they petitioned to have their bathroom breaks extended to thirty minutes but nothing changed. Furthermore, workers experience higher rates of injury at the Amazon warehouse in New York. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported their injury rates were three times higher than the national average for warehouse workers. Without a doubt, it is dangerous to be a warehouse worker. Amazon workers report that it is really difficult to keep up with the high demand of orders. Equally important, Amazon workers are forced to meet unrealistic goals each day and have to work really fast.
All of these reports are nothing new and more keep coming out due to Amazon’s negligence. This does not mean workers are allowed to be treated this way. It is wrong that the company dehumanizes their workers. Workers need to feel safe at work, they need to be given a living wage, work at idealistic standards, and more. They should not have to risk their lives to do their job. Workers’ demands are reasonable and not hard to meet. As a society, we need to support workers and demand that Amazon meets their workers’ demands. Workers will keep fighting, protesting and demanding Amazon do better.
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