business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New Yorker has, as usual, a contextual look at the unsuccessful effort to unionize the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, and suggests that this is just part of a continuum that will closely examine how it does business and treats employees, and lead to change.

An excerpt:

"Amazon is increasingly defining what entry-level labor now looks like in America, not least because the company’s dominance across so many sectors of the economy is leading rivals to adopt its ways. This new form of work has replaced countless brick-and-mortar retail jobs, but it is more physically taxing than those jobs; it is also less remunerative and purposeful than much of the assembly-line work it more closely resembles.

"The jobs are highly repetitive and relentless, and have become only more so as the warehouses have become further automated, with more robots for workers to keep pace with and more surveillance tools to track their performance. The jobs are also highly isolating, a situation made worse by the pandemic, when people who had once worked together were spaced out to deter contagion. In addition to raising pay, which now starts at slightly above fifteen dollars an hour, one of the chief goals of union activism at the company has been to ratchet back the relentlessness and make the jobs more sustainable; as it now stands, many warehouses experience a-hundred-per-cent turnover per year."

You can read the piece here.