Amazon tests workers’ rights

Amazon struggles with unions. This is the symbolic company for Business From the twenty-first century he had to deal with organizations that had their roots in the first industrial revolution. It happens in the United States, where after an unsuccessful attempt in 2014 Unions They tried again to settle in one of the logistical centers of the second largest employer in the country (more than 800,000 employees in a constant turnover). On Monday, March 29, a huge warehouse in Bessemer, near Birmingham, Alabama, was closed vote Of which 5,800 workers expressed their opinion about the possibility of entering a union representation within BHM1: this is the name of the warehouse that was opened only one year ago.

This is not a small step and both sides are showing that they understand it very well. On the one hand there Rhodeso, A trade union that has been active in the trade sector for more than 80 years, and on the other hand a Seattle company that uses all available strategies, with the help of an agency that specializes in confronting labor organizations (yes, in the United States there are also these facts, as well as those who act as union advisors). Someone talks about management pressure on employees and even on local authorities to change traffic conditions, in order to harm gatherings and communication between workers when they leave shifts, but aggression The country side Amazon is primarily focused on the wallet. “Hey, why pay nearly $ 500 in union dues? – Written on the website the company set up – We give you high wages, healthcare, dental and eye care, a safety committee, and appeals. If the answer is yes, contributions will be deducted directly from your salary.” The last message is: “Vote now and vote no”.

In fact, many workers have some doubts that Amazon is doing well. As it is known, continuous digital tracking of employees plays a fundamental role in distributing work and incentives: if you go to the bathroom, take a short break or simply exchange greetings with a colleague – some employees complain – your stats get worse and reminders can be obtained, which puts contract renewal at risk. In addition, during the last year of the pandemic, Amazon did a big business, which made founder Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world with assets estimated at around $ 70 billion: How much of this rain of money, many wonder, will it happen? Return to workers in terms of economic benefits and work welfare? To the commercial giant’s criticism Online He answers that he has a plus Already in 2018 the minimum wage is at $ 15 an hour, even supporting an extension at the federal level. A wink of the new Democratic administration, which does not relent Joe Biden too much: “Let’s clear things up: It’s not up to me to decide whether anyone should join a trade union, but not even the companies – the new president said at Video Spread away Twitter -. It’s only up to the workers, stop. “

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The president’s move is clearly supported by the left of the Democratic Party, but not only. Amazon has waged war on American working-class values ​​in recent years. he wrote Senator Marco Rubio: So he can’t expect any support even from the Republican opposition to Congress. Meanwhile, even Hollywood stars and sports support the referendum, but the main question is whether sooner or later this issue will also be able to breach the attention of the general public of consumers, which the company has always looked at with great interest. “This is a very important issue also from a communication point of view – he explains Marco PetiolProfessor of Management at the University of Padua -. Today, not only the company’s reputation but also its operating model are called into question. It would be interesting to understand the implications for consumer opinion, which is us. “

In recent years, we’ve learned to love Amazon’s great services without asking too much about its sustainability from an environmental and social point of view. – The researcher continues. Today he appears kind of The dark side, We can ask ourselves if its impact would be similar to the crisis that Nike got involved in, say, a few years ago, regarding the balls that children sew. Then the scandal was big, and today, especially the great ones Brand From fashion they are more attentive to the working conditions of their suppliers: they demand compliance with a series of protocols because they know that consumers are more sensitive to this point than they have been in the past. ”Nike, for example, has long joined in Fair Labor Association, Which is an international body that aims to improve the living conditions of workers in the world, while from the point of view of environmental sustainability, the sports company declares that 75% of its products are made from the recovery of the materials themselves. Use a sneaker. Today we need to know if we are at the start of such a path, but a lot will depend on the one thing that really matters to companies: the response of consumers. Petiol concludes, “Service quality and unionization for workers are not contradictory – Amazon defines itself as a company. Customer centric: Let’s not forget that their goal is to please us. After all, we are all workers too. “


We have learned to love Amazon services without ever asking ourselves about its environmental and social sustainability issues

Marco Petiol

The game that is actually being played goes far beyond just a warehouse in AlabamaIncludes everyone and is destined to have important repercussions also for the way we live and work. In fact, due to its characteristics, Amazon is halfway between the new e The old economyThe Internet, logistics, and well-paying jobs are plenty of jobs Low skills. Logistics was once a rather niche and relatively favorable sector for workers: the phenomenon of Internet commerce in particular, with the new fees imposed by Amazon, has revolutionized the sector, including, among other things, an increase in the tempo and a decrease . A world where everyone theoretically used to free, same-day delivery. From this point of view, the Seattle giant’s progressive unions could be a signal not only of the entire trade sector Online. After all, even in Silicon Valley Unions Hardly getting started: Last year, there was news that at the end of a long battle and after a vote similar to the one that just ended, it was a platform. Crowdfunding Kickstarter One had to be recognized Representation in union Within the company.

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And in Europe? On the Old Continent, the situation is very differentTrade unions and workers enjoy greater legal protection (in Italy, for example, there Labor law), There is a higher rate of unions and workers are represented by large unions transversal to different economic sectors, usually much stronger than Unions From Anglo-Saxon rot. But even here the difficulties are not lacking: on the occasion Black friday Last November there was Strikes in German factories From Amazon, while she was in Italy a few days ago for the first time They crossed their arms Members of the entire supply chain: from employees to The main center And delivery to Driver, About 30-40 thousand workers all over Italy. A whole new sector striving to strike a new balance between rising consumer expectations and workers’ rights. Also awaits a signal from the state of Alabama, it might be positive.

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