Recently, cities around the country have been
begging bidding Amazon to be the site of their next headquarters. If you listen to the capitalists and their politicians, this will be a boom to the local economy wherever it winds up. Some absurdities go as far as saying it’s “Akin to winning the lottery”. Interestingly enough, it’s these same capitalist forces telling us how “the U.S. economy is looking healthy…..especially on the jobs front”. HUH? So, it’s like a rich person winning the lottery? Ah! Ye, that’s what it is.
Let’s talk about it…
Amazon’s 2017 3rd quarter revenue was over $45 Billion!. Meanwhile, Amazon warehouse employee wages average out to $12 and change per hour. Familiar story right? Multi-billion dollar company and struggling workers/laborers who do all the work, living check to check. Such is the way of capitalism. So when we’re told that something is good for the economy, we always have to ask ourselves exactly who in this economy we’re all forced into actually benefits.
How Amazon cares
Amazon is a gigantic multi-billion dollar corporation which makes its riches off the backs of workers who produce the products and laborers who package them for shipment to customers. The incredibly low wages paid to its warehouse and other non-clerical employees is typical of capitalism. Its CEO Jeff Bezos is a multi-billionaire, buying up companies left and right. It should be noted that he makes more money in 1 minute than most people do in 1 Year!
Between his land holdings and list of social media, food, clothing, newspaper, and bio-tech ownings, Jeff Bezos and Amazon are part of a growing monopolistic empire off the labor of severely underpaid employees . They’re not an island but rather a link in a chain of the international capitalist machine which tosses working people into its gears to make the owners rich. It doesn’t care about workers, it doesn’t even care about customers. The “customer driven” nonsense they preach to us left and right is only but a means to their pocket fattening end, at all costs. This is not to shame anyone who works for them or buys stuff from them, but to show how connected we all are and how our interests are class interests that intersect.
Amazon faced a class action wage theft law suit within the past few years from cheating Amazon Prime Now drivers out of wages and overtime, effectively making their earnings go below the minimum wage. Amazon truck drivers (as well as truck drivers and construction workers around the country) face a different form of domination than warehouse workers by being independent contractors.
Employees at Amazon warehouses also sued the company for forcing them to undergo long security screenings (because you can’t “steal” from a company that steals your wages!) at their jobs, without paying them for the time! . We all know what that’s like, when we’re forced to do things for work without pay like more responsibilities, or long commutes, or bringing tools to the job, or paying to park at work, etc. Day in and day out capitalism shows us how much it hates us, whether directly or subtly. The employees lost both lawsuits.
Note: Amazon also managed to earn itself a lawsuit from an ex manager.
But Wait, there’s more… for a low low price, you could get: a shitty job!
Amazon’s low wages and intrusive unpaid security practices are not the only anti-worker practices they engage in. All sorts of oppressive measures are used against their employees. There’s short breaks, long 11-12 hour shifts, constant pressure to be more “productive” with increasing output under the whip of “scientific managers”, etc. They were even found tagging employees in England with “personal sat-nav (satellite navigation) computers that tell them the route they must travel to shelve consignments of goods, but also set target times for their warehouse journeys and then measure whether targets are met.”
This is the great “lottery” all the hype is about. The brutality of amazon against its employees is fairly well documented. Don’t hold your breath waiting for justice to be handed to them from the courts though. The Miami Herald (flagship of Miami’s capitalist press) applauds the efforts to bring more of another shithole company here . And the truth of the matter is that although a headquarters will offer higher wage positions than a warehouse, we as working people will suffer yet another brutal corporation rigged with documented abuses of labor expanding its territory on our backs that claims land in neighborhoods we live in.
But then again in Capitalism, the exploitation and abuse of labor is its nature, even when indirectly. For instance, there are some neighborhoods in Miami where rent may be more affordable to rent a tiny efficiency or studio for the shit wages we’re getting. There’s just one thing, those neighborhoods are facing higher rents due to “development”. Non-Ironically, the location the Miami city commissioners propose is Overtown. So what does this mean? Well, the proposed location is a historic area which has been under attack by development for some years, with the consequences of displacing poor and working people as we’re seeing also in Wynwood, Little Haiti, Little Havana, etc.
When the land value jumps because an Amazon headquarters arrives, rents jump as well and next thing you know, more of us are pushed out and ripped from our homes because we can no longer afford to live in them. The vultures are ready to sink their claws in and finish ripping O-Town apart. No one is safe.
In these times as we see an influx of low wage and part-time jobs popping up everywhere (or slightly higher waged professional and skilled jobs displacing masses of working people) we are faced with decisions. Do we continue to allow the bosses to plunder and destroy our world and lives, or do we stand up and organize to fight them together? Trump promised jobs and he is delivering, for the bosses! Meanwhile we’re faced with rising costs of living, and cuts on any social programs that might have helped us in the past. On TV they parade their “tax bill” as good for “the worker”, but the billionaires and millionaires are actually about to get a nice fat tax adjustment paid by us, again!
Remember, if we can’t survive working full-time on our low paying jobs and look for programs such as food stamps and medicaid, we’re “lazy” welfare losers. Capitalists get bailouts, lucrative contracts, investment incentives, tax cuts, tons of subsidies, etc – and that’s A-ok. Somehow they’re not lazy though they get everything as we do all the work.
The capitalists are steamrolling through us in their crises. If we don’t organize to fight for our collective future, we’ll just keep being crushed and even killed for their billions while the worst they get are fines which are literally pennies to them . Their operations and abuses are international, and our response should be to fight them not only here in South Florida, but anywhere we may be. We need to take inspiration from Amazon employees in Germany and Italy who organized and went on strike a few weeks ago.
Mind you, those employees are paid more than their US counterparts and still knew they had to fight collectively for their interests. Amazon’s US workforce has grown over 5 times since 2011, that’s a ton of underpaid working people. And, that’s just one company! Imagine the power Amazon employees can have if they constructed their own organizations. Imagine the power all workers and laborers would have if we organized for our interests! Whether Amazon builds its 2nd headquarters in Miami or not, we will continue to face deteriorating conditions. We are facing disastrous economic, political, and environmental times and if we don’t step up to bat, the world will continue to spiral outta control.
As working people, as the masses of humanity, we have a glorious potential to take our lives and the direction of our race (human) into hour own hands. We can do wonderful and beautiful things when we come together put out hearts into it. If working people make the world go round already, imagine what we can do if we were freed from the exploitation and domination of capitalism? Well, we are the majority and the future is in our hands!
Contact Workers Struggle at WorkersStruggleMIA@gmail.com
let’s construct a mass movement to shape this world for the workers and masses
Individually We’re Weak, Collectively We’re Strong!