from the making-things-worse-for-yourself dept
Despite a massive amount of spending and tactical maneuvering to derail the effort, Amazon factory workers just successfully voted to form the company’s first union on Staten Island, New York.
Much like Starbucks, years of grueling working conditions, weak benefits, and low pay directly contributed to the workers’ feeling they needed to organize. And, much like Starbucks, Amazon took a lot of the money it could have spent on raising employee wages and improving working conditions, and instead threw it at union-crushing firms and ideas that don’t make a whole lot of sense.
Case in point: much like Starbucks, Amazon doesn’t want the unionization movement to expand beyond these initial beachheads. So as the company rolls out a new employee chat app and internal social networking system, documents obtained by The Intercept indicate they’re banning a large number of common words and phrases company leadership deems problematic:
In addition to profanities, however, the terms include many relevant to organized labor, including “union,” “grievance,” “pay raise,” and “compensation.” Other banned keywords include terms like “ethics,” “unfair,” “slave,” “master,” “freedom,” “diversity,” “injustice,” and “fairness.” Even some phrases like “This is concerning” will be banned.
Whatever you think about unions, the employee desire to create them is based on valid grievances. At Amazon, that has included anger over the fact that factory employees and drivers have been forced to sometimes urinate in bottles to ensure they meet grueling quotas. Given recent coverage and complaints, Amazon brass has also contemplated banning any employee use of the word “bathroom”:
“An automatic word monitor would also block a variety of terms that could represent potential critiques of Amazon’s working conditions, like “slave labor,” “prison,” and “plantation,” as well as “restrooms” — presumably related to reports of Amazon employees relieving themselves in bottles to meet punishing quotas.”
Amazon brass continually seem to enjoy making their own problems worse. You might recall the company also thought it was a good idea to pay some employees bonuses if they spammed positive things about Amazon on Twitter (its since-discontinued and widely ridiculed “brand ambassador” program), something that wouldn’t be necessary if employees had an improved working experience.
Again, some of the planet’s wealthiest human beings could easily pre-empt unionization efforts by improving employee pay and working conditions. Instead, numerous companies feel compelled to prove angry workers’ points by embracing heavy-handed approaches that only seem to advertise how afraid they are of workers standing up for themselves, or even having candid conversations about reality.