Is it really worth it to order from Amazon? Read this exposé of Amazon’s labor practices — they are ruthless, demeaning, and evil.
At the Allentown warehouse, Stephen Dallal, also a “picker,” found that his output targets increased the longer he worked at the warehouse, doubling after six months. “It started with 75 pieces an hour, then 100 pieces an hour. Then 150 pieces an hour. They just got faster and faster.” He too was written up for not meeting his targets and was fired.27 At the Seattle warehouse where the writer Vanessa Veselka worked as an underground union organizer, an American Stakhnovism pervaded the depot. When she was on the line as a packer and her output slipped, the “lead” was on to her with “I need more from you today. We’re trying to hit 14,000 over these next few hours.”
Beyond this poisonous mixture of Taylorism and Stakhnovism, laced with twenty-first-century IT, there is, in Amazon’s treatment of its employees, a pervasive culture of meanness and mistrust that sits ill with its moralizing about care and trust—for customers, but not for the employees. So, for example, the company forces its employees to go through scanning checkpoints when both entering and leaving the depots, to guard against theft, and sets up checkpoints within the depot, which employees must stand in line to clear before entering the cafeteria, leading to what Amazon’s German employees call Pausenklau (break theft), shrinking the employee’s lunch break from thirty to twenty minutes, when they barely have time to eat their meal.
That’s just a small sample. If you work for Amazon, you’re a modern serf, relentlessly monitored and given increasingly unreachable goals.
Jeff Bezos has a net worth of 27 billion dollars. Do you think he works even a tenth as hard as the wage slaves he’s got working in his “fulfillment centers”?
One thing this story makes clear, at least, that a key element in the process of achieving some kind of equality is a vital labor movement.