Boycott Amazon for One Week to Fight for Workers Rights

Amazon is aggressively intimidating workers. Join the #BoycottAmazon campaign from Sunday, March 7 to Saturday, March 13 to fight for safe and fair working conditions.

Working conditions in Amazon warehouses are horrendous. Amazon workers in the UK are forced to urinate in plastic bottles because they cannot go to the toilet on shift. The warehouses in the US have incredibly high rates of injury (three times the national average for warehouses). Amazon refuses to make reasonable adjustments for disabled workers. They have unrealistically high “productivity quotas”, where workers are forced to pack hundreds of boxes per hour, or face firing.

Amazon workers are monitored, supervised and fired by an algorithm.

Leaked Amazon documents reveal that: “Amazon’s system tracks the rates of each individual associate’s productivity, and automatically generates any warnings or terminations regarding quality or productivity without input from supervisors.”

Considering in 2017 CEO Jeff Bezos made 1.2 million times the median Amazon employee (well before the covid Amazon profit boom), the right to safe and fair working conditions is the bare minimum.

Amazon profits exponentially from the humans who work in their warehouses, delivery unit and front line retail positions. Amazon workers know this and have been attempting to fight back.

It’s time for a worker's right sea change in the tech sector

Increasingly, workers at tech companies have voted to unionize (e.g. Kickstarter, Glitch, Google contracts). Yet, Amazon has been aggressively dissuading employees from forming unions since it’s inception in 1994. Here are some of their tactics:

  • They use software to “track and counter the threat of unionization”
  • Amazon changed traffic light timing during union drive so that pro-union workers would not be able to canvass workers while stopped at the light.
  • Bombarding workers with anti-union messaging in the bathrooms
  • Spying on employees to prevent them from gathering, striking or protesting
  • Instagram and FB targeted ads to their anti-union website ‘Do It Without Dues’.
  • Gaslighting employees on their website “If you’re paying dues…it will be restrictive meaning it won’t be easy to be as helpful and social with each other,” the site states. “So be a doer, stay friendly and get things done versus paying dues.”
  • Attempted to delay a union vote by including a motion to the National Labor Relations Board to demand votes take place in-person — a clear Covid-19 health risk
  • Fired an outspoken union advocate who spoke out against poor working conditions

Alabama warehouse workers face-off with Amazon in the union vote

Since the 8th of February, warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama have been able to vote on forming the first Amazon workers union. Workers have until March 29 to mail in their ballots. If 50% of votes are in favour of a union, it can lead the charge for wider unionisation efforts for the 400,000 operation workers at Amazon.

An Amazon workers union would help to level the playing field. Workers would have the power to negotiate better working conditions and increased wages. A union victory

“Amazon workers all over the country will see there is a path to have a voice on the job,” said Rebecca Givan, a labour studies professor at Rutgers University. “Collective action is contagious.”

This vote is bigger than just Amazon

We have all seen how utterly reliant we are on tech companies through the pandemic. The delivery of essential goods and services has literally been a lifeline. Our reliance on these tech companies is only going to grow in the coming years. Yet the relationship between multinational tech corporations and their human workers shouldn’t be based on exploitation.

We can’t forget the immense progress that has happened previously because of industrial action. Namely: maximum working hours, paid annual leave, paid parental leave, minimum wage and the weekend have all been a direct result of union action. We are already in the throws of a transforming labour market. Jobs are changing due to the 4th industrial revolution.

President Biden tweeted “Workers in Alabama — and all across America — are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace. It’s a vitally important choice — one that should be made without intimidation or threats by employers. Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union.”

This union attempted is getting attention from people and politicians from all over the world. We all need to send a clear message that workers in 2021 need safe and fair jobs. It is unacceptable for companies to accrue huge wealth for the CEO and shareholders while jeopardising the living standards of their workers.

Boycott of Amazon planned over union-busting attempts in Alabama

One thing that speaks louder than a voice is a dollar. No matter where you are in the world, I encourage you to participate in the boycott amazon campaign to communicate your support for the workers union in Alabama. The “simple weeklong boycott” of Amazon is set to kick off on Sunday, March 7, and will continue until Saturday, March 13.

This is about more than the workers in Alabama. This is about more than all the Amazon workers exposed to workplace hazards to deliver us goods. This is about communicating that exploiting bad working conditions to make a profit is unacceptable and has consequences. Boycott Amazon this week to support unionism and level the playing field.

If you are going to boycott Amazon from Sunday, March 7 until Saturday, March 13, please share your solidarity on social media!

PhD researcher interested in the intersection of psychology, emotions, technology, and work. Join my monthly newsletter: https://nicolathomas.substack.com/

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