Bernie Vs. Bezos
Independent Vermont senator and one-time presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is taking Amazon to task for what he described as “deeply disturbing stories about working conditions at fulfillment centers,” and for warehouse salaries that are “well below” a living wage. The low salaries, he argued in an email to supporters, force workers to rely on government assistance while shifting the burden to taxpayers.
In a rare retort, Amazon shot back in a blog post, calling Sanders’s claims “inaccurate and misleading”; accusing him of “playing politics”; calling him out for never having visited a fulfillment center; and encouraging employees to respond to his open call for workplace experiences. But the senator may still have the last word: He’s crafting legislation that would force large employers to cover the cost of federal assistance for their workers, and plans to ask OSHA to investigate conditions at the Amazon facilities.
Pride And Prejudice
For a company whose CEO has been a vocal supporter of the LGBT community, Amazon sure dropped the ball following a recent incident at company headquarters.
About 10 employee-designed LGBT “Pride” posters placed in HQ elevators have been defaced over the past two months, but of greater concern to some workers was Amazon’s tepid response. Rather than reemphasize inclusivity and take the culprits to task, the company replaced the signs and merely reminded all that “Defacing posters is a violation of Amazon’s policy.” Employees voiced their displeasure through an internal email thread with over 100 responses.
Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid
Amazon may be a West Coast company, but for CEO Jeff Bezos all that touchy-feely team-building stuff is for wimps. His message to employees: “Wake up every morning terrified.”
Bezos wouldn’t be the first captain of industry to use fear as a motivator, but in this instance it’s meant to scare workers out of their complacency. “I constantly remind our employees to be afraid,” he wrote in a 1999 shareholder letter. “We consider [our customers] to be loyal to us — right up until the second that someone else offers them a better service.”
Hey, Nobody’s Perfect, Not Even Amazon
With Amazon crossing into trillion-dollar valuation territory, it’s easy to forget the many colossal flubs experienced by the online leviathan along the way.
While the ill-fated Fire Phone may first come to mind, founder Jeff Bezos has hardly forgotten the $60 million he lost in Kozmo.com, an early online delivery service, or his short-lived Amazon Destinations, a travel reservations site that ceased after six months. “Failure and invention are inseparable twins,” he wrote in a 2016 shareholder letter. Ironically, many of his concepts would later be made popular by others — proving that the early bird doesn’t always capture the worm.
In Amazon We (Anti)Trust
It seems like everyone at some point has been a target of President Trump’s wrath, and Amazon is certainly no exception.
In POTUS’s latest broadside against the e-tailer, Trump lumped Amazon in with Google and Facebook as digital-era monopolists. “As you know, many people think it is a very antitrust situation, the three of them,” he said during a sit-down with Bloomberg, once again citing unnamed but outspoken folks. Trump also dropped the breakup bomb, without committing to it either way. “I won’t comment on the breaking up, of whether it’s that or Amazon or Facebook,” he said.
Amazon quote of the week: “You might remember Pets.com or Kosmo.com. It was like getting a root canal with no anesthesia. None of those things are fun. But they also don’t matter.” — Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos on the connection between success and failure