Amazon Workers’ Union Drive Reaches Far Beyond Alabama

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This hour we are talking about the union drive amongst amazon warehouse employees in bessemer alabama and. Why people in the world of labor and In modern american business are paying very close. Attention to how workers in alabama might vote As it could change a lot given the size of amazon the corporation now amazon is so big that we're kind of also informally launching a series. Hear about all the ways in which amazon is changing all of our lives so focusing on labor here today. if there's an area of life that you think amazon is changing and you'd like us focus on You know hop on to social media. Twitter facebook at on point radio and let us know what you'd like to us to look into or you can also give us a call at six one seven three five three zero six eight three looking for your ideas on areas of life that you want to learn more about that amazon. Might be changing. I'm joined today by steven. Greenhouse he's labor and workplace journalist author of beaten down worked up the past present and future of american labor karen weiss is also with. She's a new york. Times correspondent covering amazon microsoft and the pacific northwest's tech scene. She's with us from seattle. Now karen we heard from michael foster the union organizer there before the break. I wanted to ask you more about the the one of the fundamental things. He talked about which was worker. Dignity pay is one thing but worker dignities another and i think amazon's got a pretty long list of Of incidents if i can call it that where does lead one to questions of how they view or how much they the importance they have of warehouse. Worker dignity right there was they. Fires warehouse workers who spoke out about insufficient safety protocols regarding regarding covert in two thousand and twenty We've heard we've read stories. Maybe you've even written them caring about like response to being used to monitor warehouse workers and all of that. How does amazon see see people. Why think a lot of a lot of this is workforce is so large that it has almost by necessity but also just by the amazon. Ian nature tried to create Systems and rules and technology to manage them. And so when you heard. Michael talk a lot of things. We're talking about rebellious kind of technological. Productivity measurements and tools and operational tool amazon has to manage. Its workforce you know Student brought up a good point earlier about unions aren't necessarily a third voice that's that they've representative workers and i think i was free support the amazon. That's a third voice but same time You know it has ways that it listens to workers now but it's not the same as having the workers voice representatives through a union and so for example. They have boards in voice amazonian brussels onboard. People can complaints or compliments not different things but the way they use that at a global level is they use artificial intelligence and natural language processing to figure out matic patterns in it so they they had to and also broke out of bear amazonian techie. Way have developed these kind of technological relationships with workers which is which is different than how even the walmart's an immense growth. What was fifteen or so years ago when it went through. it's huge. that's a different relationship numb when you the feedback workers get is often from rate ticker essentially on their on screen which is different than being a cashier in a store and bringing people up karen that is so fascinating. The algorithms are absolutely everywhere. Oh my gosh. So here's here's basis in two thousand eighteen in an interview with business insider talking about why he says he's proud. Not only of the wages of amazon pays cause remember two thousand eighteen. There is a minimum of fifteen dollars an hour but also how he says. The company treats its employees in our view. We have we have workers councils and we have very good communications with our employees. We don't believe that we need a union to be an intermediary between us and our employees but of course at the end of the day. It's always employs choice. And that's how it should be steven. What do you think. I'd be surprised to hear that amazon. Actually has workers councils. That's you know. And if they are workers councils than i imagine they might be handpicked by management and with the union the workers pick representatives and under federal law executives are required to sit down and listen to the workers concerns. Yes amazon says that it listens to workers but it's really unclear the degree to which they really listened. I remember years ago. I wrote walmart. Walmart would say for worker has a complaint. We have an open door policy. Come in and complaint show us. And i interviewed many workers who use the open door to file complaints and then they got fired soon after and they said the open door policy is actually the out the door policy. I'm not saying that's the case amazon. But i think you know. Some companies are so much cynical when they say they really listen. I'm sure karen has spoken to amazon. Workers who have heard who have voiced the same complaint. I hear say they feel like they often feel like robots. I interviewed a worker at the best. My warehouse daryl richardson. Who said he's a pickering to three hundred fifteen items our that's five items omitted and he says you feel like a robot and if you fall behind you risk getting fired several workers who said and if we have to go to the bathroom run a few hundred yards and take a few minutes to do that We might fall behind and that and if know and if you've got to go to the bathroom a whole lot in a certain day might end up risk getting fired so they feel that they're not listened to enough and many feel that there's a lack of dignity in the pressure that's put on them every

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