Amazon & Unions

in Deep Dives5 months ago

Amazon doesn't like unions, of course. It's important to note, right at the start, that Amazon is not unique; most big companies prefer their employees to not be organized. The reason for this anti-union stance is clear, as individual employees have no power; for them there's only power in numbers.


amazon_union_small.jpg

source: YouTube

I've watched a couple of management training videos for middle-sized to large companies, and I must say I was unpleasantly surprised to see how far these companies are willing to go in order to prevent their employees to make use of their right to organize and unionize. The training video I saw from Lowe's home improvement retail store chain starts with a contradiction in terms: the narrator claims that "Lowe's strongly opposes unions in our company. Lowe's simply believes that labor unions have nothing better to offer our employees beyond what we already provide; Lowe's is pro employee, meaning that an environment of open communication between management and employees works best without interference from an outside third party..." The contradiction here is plain and simple; you can't be pro employee and anti union at the same time when unions fight on behalf of employees. Relationships in a capitalist production environment are simple: the needs and goals of employers and employees are opposite to each other. Employers want their employees to work as hard and as long as possible for the lowest wage possible, while the employee wants the opposite. And in the negotiations between the two, the employer has a position of power, while the employee has a position of dependency.

The point made of the "direct communication between management and employees" is repeated in all management training videos I saw; you'll see the same point made in the below linked video of Amazon's management training course for dealing with labor unionization. Please just watch that video to see just how Amazon teaches its managers how to walk the fine line between workers' legal rights and the company's wish to prevent unions gaining a foothold on their ground. Amazon has been waging war against its employees for decades, increasingly pushing data-driven quotas and warehouse and delivery efficiencies that workers say are dangerous and inhumane; who hasn't seen the news reports about Amazon workers wearing diapers or urinating in bottles, just because they're not given the time to visit the restroom? Now you might, like many before you, see a strange contradiction here: Amazon has also been lobbying to raise the federal minimum wage to 15 dollar per hour, and is one of just a few large companies to do so...

To explain this, I'd like to draw your attention to this article: Why Amazon Is Flooding the Country With $15 Minimum Wage Ads. The answer is already given in the article's sub-heading: "Amazon’s lobbying for a $15 minimum wage is a PR boon, hiring strategy, anti-union tactic, and move against competitors all in one." You see, the median wages in the warehouse sector are already higher than 15 dollar per hour; "the company is actually pushing wages down in the warehouse sector while convincing people who might otherwise work retail to take on backbreaking labor. On top of this, the move has been a PR boon at the same time the company is escalating its war against unions."

"My read of it all is that they—for purely labor market reasons—needed to go to $15 an hour to meet their huge staffing needs,” Mitchell told Motherboard. “Recognizing that they were going to need to do that anyways because of market conditions, they decided to parlay it into a publicity move.”

It would be a mistake to stop the analysis there, however, Mitchell added. While Amazon is paying more to its warehouse workers than Walmart pays its shelf-stockers, warehouse jobs typically pay much more than $15 per hour. Amazon is pulling off a trick where it appears to be paying more than its competitors, but the job in question is not the same as those it’s being compared to when we talk about Walmart.
source: Vice

If you watch closely, you'll see the exact same propaganda and rhetoric used in Amazon's anti-union training video linked below. One of the phrases managers are asked to look out for during workers' conversations is "living wage"; hearing that phrase is treated as a "warning sign" that employees might be in early stages of unionization, and is used as an example in the training video... And let me remind you: it's the same at Lowe's, Tesla and most other corporations that reach the top in their field; their CEO's billions are in large part "earned" on the back of cheap labor, and their anti-union policies are there to maintain that status quo.


Amazon's Union-Busting Training Video (LONG VERSION)


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