Working at Amazon modifies your perception of time. The “process” Amazon is so proud of in their logistics carries a default mark. It does not care about human life. The extraction of skills that are put into sliding carts (that’s all their robotics really) and stats to maximize our effort is solely oriented to extracting the most of our strength. At any cost. Most of the time it is our health. And this is why workers started organizing to form unions.
The business model created by Amazon boomed during the pandemic in a subsidized economy where for a long time all the shopping was done online. So yeah Amazon centralized that activity and made a lot of money. Enough to fund college education for all the working people in the USA. Or to pay living wages to the 1.2 million workers employed by this company.
But this time, Amazon is using the slowdown of the economy as an excuse to fire 18,000 workers.
The effort made by Amazon workers is insane. I take notes in my diary of my “Amazon experience”. Today I was writing this article and ran into this note from Nov 7 last year: “It’s the middle of the day, I’m counting the hours to enter my flex schedule (everchanging). Hoping that next week I’ll still have shifts available on the app. And praying to the gods of metrics that I don’t screw up my metrics again. It’s Monday. I will make this week all about surviving their shift changes and work intensity.”
Such effort is not paid back by a salary that is never enough to live on. So someone kept all the wealth produced during the pandemic. How is it that now that the economy slows down the “business model” is no longer “attractive” and therefore they must lay off 18,000 workers?
The only reason Amazon understands is profit. They refuse to acknowledge that it’s the workers who created all that wealth. Sacking 18,000 workers in one stand is the ultimate example of this logic and the completion of the scam. Use you, wear you down, expropriate your skills and strength until you’re no longer needed. Then fired.
Another input from earlier the year I wrote: “As my muscles move, the whole apparatus of logistics makes sense. Without our muscles, all the logical consequences of the process are pointless. It’s crazy to think how much we simplified the process yet nothing moves without the human flesh.”
The whole political system was shaken when Amazon workers formed their first union. Everybody understood very fast that this wasn’t an exceptional event (and hundreds of new unions nationwide confirmed). That it was the expression at Amazon of a larger process in the working class, which had understood its power, how “essential” we are to the functioning of everything. Including their profit.
This attempt to fire 18,000 workers at once is also part of a larger strategy of pushing back against workers’ rights on a larger scale. It sets a standard for bosses nationwide as to how to “handle” the high price of credit, inflation and demands that result from Biden’s economic plan.
The only other reason bosses understand is pure working class force. Amazon workers have been challenged, new unions must be formed, and a huge national strike fund should get going to support the resistance.
Let’s put some logistics to work to make our lives better.
No one should be fired. Better wages for all.
Let’s build two, three, many Amazon Unions nationwide to stop this attack!
By Carlos B, Amazon worker and DSA member