Thanks to the notoriously brutal working conditions at its fulfillment centers, Amazon has become a lighting rod of criticism from the American labor movement and the Democratic Socialists of America, who claim to champion the rights of workers (despite the fact that most of the organization’s members are college students and creative-class workers relying on handouts from their parents to pay their expensive Brooklyn rents). The e-commerce giant even won the dubious distinction of being specifically called out in a bill proposed by Socialist champion Bernie Sanders (his “Stop BEZOS” act).
by Tyler Durden Sun, 12/16/2018
As investigative reporters on multiple continents have burnished Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ reputation as a ruthless capitalist by exposing some of the company’s more extreme labor abuses, like effectively forcing employees to pee in bottles to avoid taking unpaid bathroom breaks and hiring ambulances to wait outside some of its warehouses to cart away workers suffering from heat stroke.
As the debate about what, exactly, Amazon owes its workers and the municipalities that host its facilities has taken on renewed relevance following the backlash to the generous tax breaks offered by NYC for Amazon to build a new headquarters in Long Island City (the city’s subway is crumbling, but Amazon is getting taxpayer-funded handouts to build a helipad!), more Amazon workers are rising up to protest their brutal working conditions.
This month, workers at the Amazon’s MSP1 fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota gathered outside the facility on a cold Friday evening to protest several of these ‘abuses’, including the company’s refusal to accommodate Muslim workers by not providing adequate space and time for prayer as well as its refusal to accommodate workers observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which this year coincided with the company’s Prime Day sale.
A Gizmodo story about the protest in Minnesota included an interesting detail about another demonstration at a facility in Staten Island. Workers at the Amazon facility in Staten Island who recently announced their intention to unionize complained about the company’s refusal to install air-conditioning in its sweltering facility.
The reason given by Amazon for refusing to provide the air conditioning? The robots in its facility can’t function optimally in cold weather…
Anyone ever tell Amazon that humans don’t function optimally in sweltering heat? Sad times indeed when the “rights” of machines outweigh the rights of humans. How hard can it be to install thermostat controlled heaters on the robots? I am reminded of Frank Herbert’s intelligent and perceptive sci-fi masterpiece “Dune”, where humans became slaves to their own machines…until the humans revolted and “thinking machines” were outlawed. One wonders if such a scenario will come to pass, or will we eventually merge with our machines, a scenario that is, in many ways, already underway? Think about another sci-fi scenario; The Matrix. Perhaps we will become not just slaves to machines, but mere batteries?