A recent Wall Street Journal article laid out NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio’s vision for an Amazon-ed Big Apple: a unionized labor force. Katie Honan writes:
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that New York City employees of Amazon.com Inc. should unionize and that their organizing wouldn’t prompt the company to pull out of a deal to build a new campus in Queens and bring 25,000 high-paying jobs to the location.
“I think their stance on unionization reflects a different time,” Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said of Amazon at an unrelated press conference. “Now that people are more and more concerned about decent wages and benefits, I think Amazon’s gonna have to reconsider that.”
They mayor set forth a vision of Amazon as a company that will be responsive to labor organizing and pressures for livable wages and decent working conditions. Keen observers of Amazon’s track record, however, might not be quite so optimistic. Honan goes on to quote SLU’s Stephanie Luce:
Stephanie Luce, a professor of labor studies at the City University of New York, said the company’s union battles around the world are well-documented, even in cities and countries with stronger union ties than New York City.
“It’s a real stretch to think that they can have enough leverage to make them fold,” she said. “It would be naive to believe that any city really has enough clout to make Amazon cave to demands, especially after they’re here.”
Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal.
The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.
In this holiday season, if you’ve resisted online shopping through Amazon, you’re in the diminishing minority. More than half of all online retail searches presently begin with Amazon, and the company now takes in fully half of all web-based consumer purchases made in the United States. It therefore behooves us to reckon with the behemoth’s gravitational pull on our economy, and indeed on the global economy. An impressive report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), included in this newsletter, goes a long way toward measuring Amazon’s impact on local economies in the form of shuttered businesses, net job losses, low wages for its warehouse workers, and many millions of dollars of lost tax revenue owing to Amazon’s successful tax avoidance schemes.
As evidenced in the following news articles, Amazon’s global workforce is increasingly refusing to take it on the chin. Its workers in Europe and the U.S. are engaging in traditional labor organizing, as well as organizing intended to protest the company’s business model and its inroads into dubious ventures, as in the development of facial recognition technology for law enforcement. In 2019, New Labor Forum will be publishing a number of articles that examine the ways in which Amazon and other Silicon Valley giants have altered the functioning of capitalism in the twenty-first century, thereby presenting new challenges and opportunities for worker and political organizing. So, if you haven’t already subscribed, please do so now and see below for a special holiday gift.
Table of Contents:
- Amazon’s Stranglehold: How the Company’s Tightening Grip Is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities/ Olivia LaVecchia and Stacy Mitchell, Institute For Local Self-Reliance
- Hundreds March on Amazon Fulfillment Center in Minnesota/ Bryan Menegus, Portside Labor
- German union calls strike at Amazon warehouse/ Emma Thomasson, Reuters
Photo by thisisbossi via flickr (CC-BY-SA)
No matter where they might fall on the political spectrum, it seems like everyone’s got something to say about the presidential candidates — and it’s only August. And in the space of it — in no small part due to the tactics of some #BlackLivesMatter activists — people are talking about racial justice. Here’s some of what’s been happening in progressive circles and beyond:
- #BlackLivesMatter activists disrupted a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle, setting off a progressive firestorm, question of allyship and tactics, and more. Dara Lind gives a good summary of the way it’s all shaken out over at Vox. The upshot, at least in the short-term? The Bernie Sanders campaign has released a racial justice platform.
- Since then, Sanders has pulled ahead of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire polls. Meanwhile, the National Nurses Union became the first trade union to endorse Sanders.
- The one year anniversary of Mike Brown’s murder by a white police officer in Ferguson, MO came the past week, and with it, demonstrations and arrests — including the arrest of Cornel West — over a “weekend of resistance” to the ongoing assault on black lives in the United States.
- Meanwhile, California has banned secret juries and affirmed the right to film police (via DemocracyNow!)
- More coverage of the toll that unpredictable schedules is taking on the lives of workers, this time in the form of a NYTimes editorial by Teresa Tritch. A choice excerpt: “being on-call, even when one is not called, decreases an employee’s well-being and increases the need for “recovery,” (read: sleep and time off).” Meanwhile, Sabri Ben-Achour at Marketplace.org asks: Will last-minute work soon be history?
- Academic freedom may soon be a memory in the state of Wisconsin, thanks to new policies pushed forward by Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin State Legislature (via the Guardian).
- 4000 workers have gone on an indefinite strike at a GM plant in Brazil in the face of ongoing layoffs (via LaborNotes)
- Verizon contract negotiations continue, with Verizon East contract workers rallying up and down the coast. Meanwhile, AT&T faces a possible strike thanks to the expiration of a contract covering 23,000 of its union workers.
- Ever wonder how Amazon continues to offer those low prices, that quick delivery, that effortless consumer experience? David Golumbia wrote a piece (The Amazonization of Everything) for Jacobin explaining who pays and how.
- In NYC yesterday, protesters demonstrated outside of the offices of Paulson & Co in response to Puerto Rico’s fiscal problems and those who appear to be profiting off of them.