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Amazon's recent scandal of exploiting thousands of teenagers in its China warehouses prompted an investigation. This article will explore the working conditions of workers at Amazon, the methods used to spy on union organizers, and the implications of the current COVID-19 crisis on labor practices at Amazon. For those who are unaware of the problems at Amazon, the information presented here is essential reading. Also, you'll discover the shocking truth about the company's history and its current labor practices.
Work conditions in Amazon's warehouses
A recent exposé by Business Insider revealed work conditions in Amazon's warehouses to be shocking. According to the report, workers have been working long hours and are forced to do physical labor. Many of them have experienced injuries or permanent damage to their bodies and have been returned to their jobs against doctors' advice. Amazon has been slow to address the allegations and has refused to admit to any incidents. But workers say they have no choice but to work long hours and carry out heavy duty because it makes them feel less stressed.
The company has also been criticized for its treatment of warehouse workers. Recent reports cite claims that 20 percent of workers are out sick due to coronavirus or another disease, causing them to miss work. Other warehouse workers said they were not paid well for overtime, and were under severe pressure to meet unrealistic productivity quotas. These workers are not alone in their complaints. The company has faced scrutiny in recent years for its treatment of employees in its warehouses.
While Amazon has repeatedly denied the allegations, the company's CEO, Jeff Bezos, has proved largely unreceptive to public appeals to decency. The company will continue to employ an invisible labour force and an underrepresented workforce. The lack of internal worker representation at Amazon is a result of both a lack of union density and the structure of the workplace. The introduction of protective equipment such as COVID-19 has made it impossible for workers to talk to each other in these workplaces.
The report by the National Employment Law Project and the Awood Center, a nonprofit workers' center, has cited concerns that warehouse workers are exposing themselves to dangerous workplace conditions. The authors of the report found that Amazon warehouse workers had 5.9 serious injuries per 100 workers in 2020, which was 80% higher than the rate among workers in non-Amazon warehouses. Serious injuries are defined as those requiring a worker to miss work for more than a month.
Methods used to spy on union organizers
While the Pinkerton detective agency has been notorious for busting up labor unions for decades, Amazon recently hired operatives to monitor a strike in a warehouse in Poland. The reason? Because Amazon wants to make sure no one else messes up its business. Amazon also hired Pinkerton operatives to spy on strikers in Barcelona, Spain. This is not the first time Amazon has spied on union organizers.
For several years now, Amazon management has engaged in anti-union tactics, including the use of high-tech surveillance tools and "heat maps" to target union organizers. These practices are hardly new, but Amazon's use of these tools and technologies has led to a growing human rights crisis. In fact, they have continued to hire labor spies with backgrounds in federal intelligence and union avoidance.
A memo published last week by an internal Amazon employee, titled "SPOC: The Secretive Program of the Chief Executive Officer," has caused a storm among the company's corporate staff. The memo was distributed by employees after an investigation of employees' mailing lists. Employees suspected the project was part of an HR surveillance program and feared that the company would spy on them in a bid to avoid potential union activity.
These documents provide a unique look at Amazon's internal security procedures. The company has a global security operations center, whose mission is to spy on union organizers and prevent them from joining a union. The center is staffed by former FBI agents and US Army intelligence analysts. The documents reveal that Amazon has a wide range of tools to spy on union organizers. In fact, they've already used these tools in the US and Australia to track union organizers.
The company also hired Pinkerton operatives, who have decades of experience in infiltrating unions, to track union activists in Europe. The firm tracked union activists because it believed the protests were threatening to Amazon's operations. The documents suggest that Amazon is using the same surveillance methods in the U.S. as they do abroad. It has denied this claim, but the evidence demonstrates the firm's willingness to spy on union organizers.
Impact of COVID-19 crisis on Amazon's labor practices
The COVID-19 outbreak has sparked an unprecedented debate over the nature of Amazon's labor practices. Tens of millions of Americans rely on Amazon's e-commerce services to get the things they need. Despite their widespread dissatisfaction with their working conditions, employees are demanding better pay and better working conditions. Some have even walked off their jobs over their concerns.
A recent survey by Change to Win reveals that more than three-quarters of Amazon employees and workers at Whole Foods grocery stores and contractors staffing Amazon warehouses aren't receiving adequate training about the dangers of the virus. Of those who received no training, more than 40% reported not knowing what COVID-19 is and were not aware of any confirmed cases. Amazon's response has been largely ineffective in ensuring employee safety.
As an example of how the company is responding, Amazon has implemented several changes. Amazon has been implementing measures to improve worker safety, and has even installed thermal cameras in warehouses to monitor the temperature of workers. The company has also implemented mobile ultraviolet sanitation to kill off the virus. In addition, the company will implement a new safety plan, which includes a complete overhaul of its work environment. And that's not all. Hundreds of other companies have taken similar measures.
While some warehouse workers have reported no health problems, Amazon has made significant changes to its employee benefits and labor practices. Amazon has increased wages for hourly workers and allowed two weeks of paid sick leave. Previously, employees had to test positive for COVID-19 before they were allowed to begin working. However, a nationwide testing shortage made this difficult. Further, the company has also increased the amount of unpaid time employees can take off, a move criticized by lawmakers.
While Amazon's COVID-19-related worker safety problems have sparked questions among lawmakers, the company has taken steps to protect workers. The company has also started cracking down on workers who raise concerns about health conditions. In one instance, Amazon recently fired Christian Smalls for organizing a walkout to protest the COVID-19 crisis. And while Amazon may not be guilty of exploitation, it is still exploiting a health crisis for its own profits.
Impact of COVID-19 crisis on union organizing
While the recent COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for workers, a critical question is whether the crisis will have an impact on union organizing. While some challenges are unique to COVID-19, others are the result of decades of worker power erosion. Nearly 90 percent of essential workers do not have union representation. These workers are exposed to dangerous and unhealthy working conditions, but they cannot take action until the situation improves.
The COVID-19 pandemic has helped raise awareness of labor rights, and it has galvanized energy around collective power. Unions are leveraging this pro-union energy by focusing on safety issues and promoting the power of the collective. The question now becomes: Will union organizing be affected? Many unions believe so. If not, what can be done? While the COVID-19 pandemic has provided opportunities for union organizing, it may actually harm unions that are already struggling.
Some workers have criticized the COVID-19 pandemic for delaying unionization. The COVID-19 pandemic spurred many workers to think about union organizing. In Missouri, for example, the Service Employees International Union worked to organize health care workers for a year. But after the pandemic, local officials banned meetings for fear that worker infection would infect other workers. In the end, the big companies managed to stall the union organizing drives.
While the COVID pandemic is putting much of the economy in a medically induced coma, the impact on union organizing is significant. Workers at Stop & Shop were granted a 10% raise early on in the shutdown. Other large essential retail workers have demanded pay increases and other benefits, and power plant and construction workers have engaged in formal strikes. Moreover, many high-wage workers are filing for unemployment benefits, resulting in a surge in new union membership.
The COVID-19 pandemic also affected the number of nonmembers. The numbers in North Dakota show that only 6% of union members are unionized. In contrast, in the state of New York, the COVID-19 crisis resulted in a spike in union membership among nonmembers. In addition to that, the number of nonmember actions by unions rose dramatically. For example, the national nurses' union reported that during the first month of the pandemic, they voted to join the union. Several times, these nurses joined the union, but in one case, the nurses did not.