Amazon inserting inequality into its business strategy has managed to help separate the United States into rich and poor areas. Office staff and programmers are in rich areas, and employees who sort and deliver products are in poor areas. But despite this, Amazon’s workforce has not unionized because Amazon has tried to prevent them from forming because unions would cut into its profits. However, that might change with a vote on March 29, 2021, which would provide Amazon workers with a chance for a greater pay, but also with a more humane workspace. One example of inhumane treatment is some low level employees working 11 hours shifts. They are indirectly pit against each other to make the most deliveries, leading to an injury rate (of the 23 Amazon warehouses studied) double that of the warehouse industry average. In addition, during those 11 hour shifts, bathroom breaks are monitored, infringing on privacy. These qualities show that Amazon does not treat all its employees fairly.
Passing this vote (which is the most ambitious attempt for Amazon workers to unionize,) would provide employees with a home humane workspace, along with protection against arbitrary firing and the ability to bargain for a higher wage. If the vote passes, it would show that employees in any U.S. company could unionize. That shift in power would likely improve the mental health of the rank and file employees, and as a result, their productivity. In addition, it could reduce the inequality that has infiltrated the economy.
Unions do have some problems, such as making it more difficult for companies to fire incompetent employees, and there are other ways to protect workers, such as strict labor laws. However, unions are still very effective at pushing back against the maximization of profits at the expense of workers, so I believe unions at Amazon should form. The monetary gap between the least paid of Amazon’s workers and Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, not having a good paying job compared to a net worth of $1.6 trillion, respectively, is absolutely absurd, and should not be considered ethical. Unfortunately though, this large monetary is not unusual. Between 1965 and 2021, the pay difference between the average private-sector worker and chief representatives in the 350 largest companies rose from 21 times to 320 times. Hopefully though, this vote could result in the start of a trend in the reverse direction.
Original News Story: “The fight to unionize is the most important labor story of this century.” John W. Miller, America Magazine, Mar. 25, 2021. https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2021/03/25/amazon-union-vote-jeff-bezos-capitalism-240317
Picture: “Amazon Cites reduce carbon output in new delivery option.” Transport Topics, Mar. 6, 2019. https://www.ttnews.com/articles/amazon-cites-reduced-carbon-output-new-delivery-option