Bloomberg: Amazon Warehouse Worker Dies in Bessemer, Alabama
At the same Amazon warehouse site where workers attempted to form a union in defense of better conditions earlier this year, an Amazon worker has collapsed and died. The worker was sent to the hospital last Thursday after he was found in a warehouse bathroom.
Vice: Amazon Drivers are Instructed to Drive Recklessly to Meet Delivery Quotas
A new safety app Amazon is requiring delivery drivers to download monitors drivers speed and whether they appear distracted. However, drivers often must exceed safe speed limits to meet their delivery quotas, and also say that the app sometimes marks small things like moving the phone a little as "distracted driving." According to texts obtained by Vice, some dispatchers are instructing drivers to turn off the app so that they can meet the company's delivery quotas.
Protocol: Amazon’s Non-Compete Agreement ‘Unfairly Handcuffed’ Her: How One Manager is Pushing Back
Charlotte Newman first came forward about harassment and discrimination at Amazon in early March. However, many may be surprised to know that she is still working for the company whilst suing them, because the company's non-compete agreements would keep her from taking on any similar positions for 18 months. Though non-compete agreements are uncommon in most of Silicon Valley because California does not enforce them, tech workers in other major hubs, like Seattle, are still vulnerable.
Bloomberg: Amazon Work Rules Govern Tweets, Body Odor of Contract Drivers
Despite the fact that they drive Amazon-branded vehicles, Amazon delivery drivers work for independent businesses contracted to deliver packages for the company. Amazon has exacting rules for these drivers, including strict personal grooming policies, mandated surveillance, and social media restrictions. Yet, they also claim to not be liable in the case of accidents or driver misconduct, expecting smaller companies to shoulder the blame. Legal experts say this relationship may be unlawful, and expect the Biden administration to examine it closely. Skeptics, however, point out that the Biden administration appointed an Obama administration veteran who wrote a book outlining arguments companies like Amazon use in court.
Insider: Amazon Was Ranked by LinkedIn as the Best Place to Grow Your Career. But the List Omitted Major Factors Like Pay and Race.
Though LinkedIn listed Amazon as the #1 place for young techworkers to grow their careers, an investigation by Insider showed that LinkedIn didn't account for crucial criteria like racial diversity. Two months ago, diversity managers at Amazon told Recode that Black employees were promoted less frequently and rated more harshly than peers.
Bloomberg: Amazon Spending $1 Billion on Early Pay Bump for Hourly Workers
Amazon will be introducing raises ranging from 50 cents to $3 an hour for over 500,000 workers in their logistics division, a move intended to boost hiring in their fastest growing sector. Amazon was criticized during the failed campaign to unionize in Bessemer, Alabama for having wages lower than competitors in the logistics industry, despite starting at $15 an hour. Workers also report increased overtime shifts in recent weeks, a sign that Amazon may be short staffed.
Bloomberg: Amazon Pledges to Promote More Women, Black Employees
In a new report, Amazon released company-wide diversity data and pledged both a 30% increase of women in technical roles and a 100% increase in Black employees in high-level technical roles. Notably, the company did not release diversity data for technical employees specifically - information that major competitors have released since 2017. The company has historically avoided discussing racial and gender diversity in their ranks, releasing significantly less data than their peers. This data release follows shareholder pressure to audit how the company affects marginalized groups. Amazon asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to block shareholders' proposal in January, though the regulator denied their request.
Insider: Amazon Drivers Describe the Paranoia of Working Under the Watchful Eyes of New Truck Cameras
Amazon has installed AI-powered cameras from the company Netradyne called Driveri, which monitor drivers and often record footage. The cameras send footage to a small group of supervisors in cases ranging from serious accidents to instances of a driver yawning or abruptly breaking. Though the drivers admit there are some advantages to the tech, many feel they are micromanaged. Others complain of a lack of privacy, especially if they need to relieve themselves while in their vehicles.
Amazon: Official Statement on the Election in Bessemer
In their first official statement since the election to form a union in Bessemer, Alabama was defeated, Amazon argues that employees acted on their own free will. Amazon is facing criticism and a legal threat from RWDSU for the alleged coercion and intimidation of workers.
RWDSU: Amazon Illegally Interfered with Union Vote
After the union effort at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama was defeated last Friday, the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union announced that they would be appealing the decision with the NLRB. According to a Friday statement, the RWDSU says that Amazon "created an atmosphere of confusion, coercion and/or fear of reprisals and thus interfered with the employees' freedom of choice." The largest point of contention is a mailbox installed on warehouse property, after the NLRB denied Amazon's request for one because it was a potential source of coercion. Amazon has told the Washington Post (owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, of course) that the mailbox was merely a "simple, secure, and completely optional" method of voting.
Insider: Amazon Employees Blast the Forced Return to Offices as Unfair, and Facebook and Oracle Appear to be Trying to Poach Frustrated Remote Workers
On March 30, Amazon notified employees that it would be returning to an "office-centric" culture once the pandemic died down. At the same time, Oracle and Facebook have both made statements about continued remote-optional work for cloud employees. A statement from Oracle VP Ross Brown on LinkedIn appeared to be targeting Amazon workers, while workers who spoke with Insider said they had been receiving increased messages from recruiters at both Oracle and Facebook. Amazon employees say the return to office work is unfair. They say that there has been a lack of transparency as to how Amazon will implement the gradual return to the office, and that they are concerned Amazon won't prioritize coronavirus safety during the transition.
Alabama Local: Alabama Amazon Unionization Fight Ends in Defeat for Labor Organizers
At the end of counting, with affirmative union votes had less than 30% of the total count. Amazon won 1,798 votes against the union, out of 3,215 total ballots cast. "Yes" union votes totaled 738, with 505 challenged ballots and 76 voided ballots.
The New York Times: Amazon Union Vote Count Pauses For Night: Live Updates
When the vote count was paused late Thursday night, results appeared to be going Amazon's way. When voting paused, 1,100 workers had voted against unionization, while 463 had voted in support.
Washington Post: Emails show Amazon pressed Postal Service for mailbox, a move a union believes violates labor law
The Washington Post expressed its independence from its owner today, publishing new revelations of Amazon's Bessemer, Alabama union-busting shenanigans. Apparently, after asking the NLRB to place a mailbox at the site and being denied, Amazon went directly to the US Postal Service to pressure it to place a drop box there, and subsequently both USPS and its biggest customer lied about it. The Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union has previously complained that the on-site mailbox amounts to intimidation and provides Amazon undue control, and today's revelations bolster those claims.
Vice: Amazon Workers in Chicago Strike Over Ruthless ‘Megacycle’ Shifts
As the world waits for the final tally of the union vote at the Bessemer, Alabama warehouse, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Chicago have walked out in protest over grueling shift policies. Shockingly, Amazon's clapback intimidation on Twitter doesn't seem to have quelled workers' appetite for a place at the table.
Bloomberg: Amazon apologizes for tweet denying that drivers have to pee in bottles
Well, "apologizes." In a blog post published April 2nd, Amazon apologized to Representative Mark Pocan for denying that their delivery drivers had to pee in bottles. The March 24th tweet received intense backlash, particularly after The Intercept published internal documentation showing that Amazon knew about the problem since at least 2018. The blog post, however, says that the problem of delivery drivers not having time to find and use the restroom was "industry-wide," due to traffic, rural routes and pandemic bathroom closures. Not, you know, working conditions at Amazon.
The New York Times: Amazon Illegally Fired Activist Workers, Labor Board Finds
The National Labor Review Board found that Amazon illegally retaliated last year when it fired two Seattle employees.
Insider: A behind-the-scenes look at Amazon’s employee review process
After scrutiny of their employee review process followed a 2015 New York Times Article, Amazon pledged to simplify evaluations and focus on employee strengths. However, according to leaked documents obtained by Insider and a series of over 12 employee interviews, Amazon appears to be following a stack ranking process. This process ranks people by their effectiveness, placing 5% in the bottom tier and at threat of termination. Though these employees are eligible for improvement plans, appeal processes for placement in these programs have been weakened. Internal documents show that Amazon expects approximately 6% of workers to leave the company by choice or otherwise on an annual basis.
Insider: Amazon hiring 5,000 more German workers, receiving lower starting wages than US counterparts
According to a recent press release, Amazon plans to hire 5,000 new workers in Germany, where they already have an over 23,000-person workforce. These workers will start at wages ranging from $13.25-$14.90, $1.75 USD less than their widely-touted $15 starting wage in America. Germany's current minimum wage is $11.14 per hour but will be $12.26 by July of 2022. German Amazon workers held a strike in June over high rates of Covid-19 transmission within the company, and again in October when the company stopped paying them a pandemic bonus. The German trade union Verdi has called for a four-day strike this weekend to demand pay raises.
Buzzfeed: Why some Amazon workers are organizing without the NLRB
While votes are tallied for a union election in Bessemer, Alabama, some Amazon workers are looking toward ways of organizing without the NLRB. After decades of declining union popularity compounded by four years of the Trump administration, many of these workers find the NLRB to be under-resourced. Amazonians United, for example, is a worker network including Amazon employees at warehouses across the country.