You can’t call yourself pro-worker or pro-union if you ignore Amazon’s behavior

STUART APPELBAUM President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union | 1/3/2019, 1:04 p.m.
Amazon has been well-documented as one of the most anti-worker, anti-union companies in the U.S. and around the world.
Stuart Appelbaum

Amazon has been well-documented as one of the most anti-worker, anti-union companies in the U.S. and around the world. Amazon is a trillion-dollar company and is controlled by the wealthiest man on the planet. Yet it consistently mistreats and dehumanizes its workers around the globe—the very women and men who have made the company successful.

Amazon workers in Germany, Italy and Spain have gone on strike, and we’ve seen massive demonstrations by Amazon workers in Great Britain over the way they are being mistreated. Amazon’s business model is based on receiving taxpayer subsidies, paying little or no taxes and mistreating their employees.

Amazon warehouse workers face outrageous work quotas and cruel working conditions that have left many with illnesses and injuries. Contracted workers, such as those making “last mile” deliveries, have described inhumane working conditions and demands. These couriers say they cannot take bathroom breaks and often feel compelled to drive dangerously to satisfy the stringent demands of Amazon.

In the United Kingdom alone, there have been 600 ambulance calls to the online retailer’s warehouses in the past three years, and, according to a study by the GMB union, roughly 80 percent of workers experience pain on the job.

Gov. Cuomo was absolutely right when he said recently at a rally about Charter Communications, “What’s happening in this country is there’s more and more corporate power and they’re trying to abuse workers. It’s happening all across the board. It’s happening all across the nation. But we’re saying it’s not going to happen in the state of New York.”

The importance of Amazon and what it means for the future world of work transcends one company. These issues and more are examined and exposed in a new report by the RWDSU called “What’s Wrong With Amazon?” that can be viewed online at https://tinyurl.com/WhatsWrongWithAmazon. The report details the extent of Amazon’s detrimental effects on workers and communities, and shows why, in the words of Sharan Burrow, the newly re-elected head of the global labor movement, Amazon is the global labor movement’s No. 1 target.

Nobody can call themselves pro-worker or pro-union if they exempt or ignore Amazon’s behavior. If Amazon wants to be welcomed in New York, it needs to change the way it treats working women and men and their unions.