In America anti-union sentiment is strong due to the marketing efforts of large business owners that don’t like paying workers. Amazon’s anti-union efforts are a great example of this. In recent years the pro-union movement has been growing and the recent push by Amazon workers to get respect is an example of this.
Over at Vice, of all places, they have an article about eight people explaining how they learned that unions are there to protect workers. The stories capture the reality, and benefits, of being in a union in the USA right now.
That strike helped us win free family health care. We don’t have to pay anything to cover our spouse or kids, and the copays are so low that I never need to worry about money when I go to the doctor. We also won retention rights, which protect us when our restaurants shut down or close temporarily for renovations—which happens all the time at SFO! With these retention rights, we get put on a priority list to be rehired at one of the other restaurants in the airport. My union contract gives me a sense of security that I’m always going to be able to provide for my family. Before I started as a union cook at SFO, my husband was working a job where he had to pay a big premium for health insurance, and it didn’t even cover the whole family. Nothing beats having a good job that feels really secure.
Amazon has grown from an online book retailer to the seller of all things and destroyer of established businesses. It also treats humans like robots and gives them no respect while also dismissing human concerns like good working conditions and a breathable atmosphere. The lengths of which Amazon has gone to disrespect workers, the environment, and a decent of morals has led Tim Bray to resign from the company. This is exceptional.
In an open letter posted on his website he outlines all the reasons he left. He ranges from Amazon’s horrendous treatment of workers to the company’s disrespect of environmental concerns. It’s a scathing letter written by a highly respected individual. It’s quite rare for somebody at this level of a company to resign in this fashion and hopefully others will follow his lead.
Amazon’s strategy throughout the coronavirus crisis has been to fire dissenters and disparage them both in the press and behind closed doors. There have been dozens of confirmed coronavirus cases at warehouses around the country, and workers have repeatedly said the company isn’t doing enough to protect them. Last week, Amazon ended a program that allowed workers to take unlimited unpaid time off if they fear getting sick from the coronavirus. Last Friday, Amazon workers together with Target, FedEx, Instacart, and Whole Foods workers, went on strike to protest their working conditions.
In his resignation letter, Bray said that “firing whistleblowers isn’t just a side-effect of macroeconomic forces, nor is it intrinsic to the function of free markets. It’s evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture. I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison.”
Amazon’s growth has been surprising to many, and their reach into markets seems endless. This expansion means they can greatly influence markets and the global environment. Companies like IKEA are trying to make their systems more efficient so they harm the environment less, and this eco-strategy is gaining popularity amongst other responsible companies. Amazon has done nothing.
The company’s environmental neglect is being noticed by everyone including their employees. And unlike the executives at Amazon, the workers are sick of the company’s negligence.
Employees at Amazon have increasingly criticized the company in recent years for its contracts with large oil and gas firms. In spring 2019, more than 8,700 employees signed an open letter to the CEO, Jeff Bezos, urging him to take bolder action on climate change. The presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have also offered support of employees for speaking out.
The employee activism is part of a broader trend in the tech industry of employee walkouts and protests against corporate policies. Google workers staged internal protests over sexual harassment policies in 2018 that continued into 2019 and gig workers at Instacart and Uber have organized strikes to fight for better pay and benefits. In June 2019, workers at the online furnishings retailer Wayfair walked off the job to oppose the company’s contracts with detention centers for immigrants.
This week it was announced that carbon in our atmosphere has reached levels not seen for 800,000 years. Clearly we need to do better to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and the releasing of carbon (and other waste) into the atmosphere. While reduction efforts continue, we need to do something now. And doing something now is what an international coalition of agencies is doing in Brazil. They are going to plant 73 million trees to bring life back to the amazon. They will be planting the trees on rainforest land that was previously cleared for factory farming using a new technique to see how well it works.
“This is not a stunt,” Sanjayan says. “It is a carefully controlled experiment to literally figure out how to do tropical restoration at scale, so that people can replicate it and we can drive the costs down dramatically.”
The muvuca strategy demands that seeds from more than 200 native forest species are spread over every square meter of burnt and mismanaged land. The seeds are purchased from the Xingu Seed Network, which since 2007 has acted as a native seed supply for more than 30 organizations, thanks a collection of more than 400 seed collectors–many of whom are indigenous women and local youths.