Jeff Bezos Booed By Amazon Workers

Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, has made Amazon shareholders extremely wealthy and happy in recent years, but when it comes to Amazon's 566,000 employees, it's a different matter entirely.

Last week, Amazon finally disclosed its workers’ median annual salary, which at a paltry $28,446 put Amazon on par with Hershey, slightly above retailer Home Depot, and almost ten times below the $240,430 median annual comp at Facebook, according to recent proxy filings.

This will hardly come as a surprise: after all, most of the roughly half-million blue-collar, part-time employees at Amazon don’t make six figures while spending their workdays writing code, and instead unload trucks, drive forklifts and walk miles collecting products to fill orders—all for around the same pay as workers in other companies’ warehouses. Due to their menial, repetitive task, they are also rapidly being replaced by robots.

Which explains why Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was booed and received a hostile reception from his own workers, when he arrived in Berlin on April 24 to pick up an innovation award (mercifully, it wasn't for making human workers obsolete.)

According to Bloomberg, around 350 Amazon workers, members of Germany's powerful Ver.di trade union, gathered outside the office of tabloid publisher Axel Springer where the awards ceremony was taking place, carrying posters demanding to "Make Amazon Pay."  The union has been pushing for higher pay for Amazon’s thousands of workers in the country for several years, claiming they receive lower wages than workers in other retail jobs. Amazon workers from other countries, including Poland and Italy, also traveled to Berlin to join the protest.

In a dramatic description of Amazon working conditions, Verdi boss Frank Bsirske said that “we have a boss who wants to impose American working conditions on the world and take us back to the 19th century." Ver.di has for years been a constant thorn in Amazon’s side in Germany, organizing workers strikes to demand improved pay and working conditions according to Bloomberg.

One of the protesters at the event was Thomas Rigol, 37, who joined Amazon as a logistics worker in Leipzig in 2008. Rigol says he would like Bezos to give unions a say in the company, and increase profit sharing opportunities for workers.

"But mostly it’s about respect, which the simple workers aren’t getting from the upper management,” Rigol said. “Mr. Bezos is the richest man in the world and we are being patronized.”

The protest took a political turn, when Andrea Nahles, the new leader of Germany's Social Democrats which is in coalition with the ruling CDU, turned up at the protest, and also had harsh words for Bezos, telling reporters that he didn’t deserve his prize since he treats his employees badly. Amazon employs some 16,000 people in Germany, its biggest market outside the US.

And confirming that Germany will do everything in its power to maximize Amazon's tax receipts - if only in Germany - Nahles labeled Amazon, along with other big tech companies "world champions in tax avoidance" and told reporters that "this does not deserve a prize."

Later, during a fireside chat with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner on Tuesday evening, Bezos defended Amazon saying he was "very proud of our working conditions, and I’m very proud of the wages we pay,” including in Germany. It was not immediately clear if he discussed his unstated desire to replace all low-paid warehouse workers with zero-paid robots over the next several years.

Separately, when asked a question about whether he was concerned Trump would try to break up Amazon Bezos said he expects to be scrutinized. “The big tech companies have become large enough that they’re going to be inspected,” Bezos said. "It’s fine." In other words, "the world's richest man" does not appear at all concerned about the actions of "the world's most powerful man."

Comments

HopefulCynical MARDUKTA Wed, 04/25/2018 - 14:14 Permalink

...impose American working conditions on the world and take us back to the 19th century.

End all foreign aid NOW. Make all these countries pull their full weight in NATO, financially. Reduce our military spending by AT LEAST 50% in each of these countries.

Entitled little Socialist shitheads. Who do they think generates the bulk of the world's wealth to underwrite their cradle-to-grave utopias?

In reply to by MARDUKTA

D503 HopefulCynical Wed, 04/25/2018 - 14:40 Permalink

It is truly incredible how many people love to watch the evisceration of middle management and the automation of entry level positions. Especially when the fool's who croon about it ALL enjoyed the system where it existed for them either as a customer base, or a job source. 

It won't be long before some red faced father is screaming at his phonedrone kid about getting a job "mowing lawns" or "flipping burgers" and the "smart ass" teen will laugh in his father's unevolved face and tell him, "They automated those jobs retard, I'm trying to get patreons for my porn cam with my girlfriend so we can get enough bitcoin to meet up with the guy selling "ROOFING TAR" on Craigslist and get high on heroin/fentanyl/die, w/e what's the fucking point?"

In reply to by HopefulCynical

HopefulCynical Pendolino Wed, 04/25/2018 - 22:43 Permalink

Oh we need to reduce military spending, for sure, but let's get real. Europe, with its ridiculous labor laws and entitlements, isn't putting in the hours that generate the wealth. Again, if we required to-the-penny NATO payments and stopped paying to protect shipping lanes for countries that fuck us over in trade, we wouldn't BE $21 trillion in debt. And none of those countries would have 30 hour workweeks and several weeks of paid vacation mandated by law, either. GFY.

In reply to by Pendolino

binky TheBlaze Wed, 04/25/2018 - 14:40 Permalink

Years back an article on this site listed Illinois school administrators salaries and projected pension payouts. At the top of the list was an individual whose current salary was $333,000 -- in fifteen years time the salary at retirement was estimated to be $888,000. The icing (very thick icing) on this cake was the estimated $27,000,000 million total pension payout before death (approximately 30 years later).

Poor son-of-a-bitch will be lucky if he can afford McDonalds. 

In reply to by TheBlaze

John Kerry-Heinz BaBaBouy Wed, 04/25/2018 - 14:30 Permalink

"Besoz Would Put 2 Chickens in YOUR Home and charge you for Every Egg they Lay ???"

Brilliant!  You think Mr. Bezos (His Omnipotent Highness Krill) would permit us to use the chicken shit as fertilizer in the garden or would that be too much to ask?

In reply to by BaBaBouy

wetwipe Joe Davola Wed, 04/25/2018 - 12:27 Permalink

Yeah its a fuckin disgrace... Why can't they pay people a decent wage??? Just like in the olden days when shelf stackers earned a six figure salary and the guy who goes round and collects all the shopping trolleys drove a Aston Martin to work. These corporate barons have got too greedy back in the old days we had stand up guys like Robert Maxwell running the show... people the workers could trust. Also them fuckin robots... they're going to have your job, you know, not like in the old days when no one would dare sack hundreds of typists and replace them with a computer, no that would never happen.

We live in truly hellish times.... Thank god for my support group on FaceBook.

In reply to by Joe Davola

The Mystic Seer 2ndamendment Wed, 04/25/2018 - 18:01 Permalink

But walmart jobs are just that. Typical single mom with neck tat's, guy with missing teeth, 70+ old's still working to pay off debts, 35 year old grandmothers, trailer dwellers and the like. Amazon screens, trains and watches employees and expects them all to work like hell. Walmart employees imo are barely employable and functionally illiterate and just stand around and do the bare minimum, with some exceptions, like dept managers and shift leaders.

In reply to by 2ndamendment

Faeriedust The Mystic Seer Wed, 04/25/2018 - 21:03 Permalink

Walmart employees are a very mixed bag.  In a high-priced suburb full of Asian immigrants, they're the wives and college-aged kids of doctors and IT managers.  In a rural area with virtually no decent jobs outside of repairing the highways, they're everyone who didn't go to college (and leave) and can be depended on to actually show up -- you get the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And they all work excruciatingly hard.

In reply to by The Mystic Seer

jin187 wetwipe Wed, 04/25/2018 - 15:21 Permalink

How about the guy that picks up trash at a factory getting $20 an hour, and the guy that does it at a McDonald's getting $8?  Or the guy at a different factory getting $12 an hour?  All these wages are arbitrary.  I see people coming from the aircraft plants everyday, and most of them have jobs where they ride a trolley to pick up trash, grind burrs off of sheet metal, carry boxes back and forth, solder wires together, and other menial retard jobs.  Yet they drive brand new custom F-150's.  This woman I know was bragging to me a few weeks ago that all they do is sit at a desk all day with their thumb up their ass, and that her bosses don't even know what her job is, but she's getting paid $30 an hour to do it.  Not like she did anything special to get that job either.  She didn't even finish high school.  She was working at a burger joint 20 years ago, and lucked her way into a $15 an hour job at the factory sanding parts, then got promoted to the supervisor of something or other after her boss took early retirement.  Yet it's people like these that are the hard workin' family supportin' 'Muricans we love, while the trash picker guy at McDonalds is to be mocked and shit upon for having no skills, and doing a job no one values.  We all go there for fries, and we'll be damned if they raise the price of fries to pay that guy a decent wage.  Meanwhile, no one ever complains that an airplane costs a million dollars, mainly so they can pay their trash pickers $20 an hour.

In reply to by wetwipe

wetwipe jin187 Wed, 04/25/2018 - 17:05 Permalink

Excellent point...... I would recommend that the McDonald's employee applies for a job at the aerospace plant. Turns up on time everyday for 15 years, stays clean from booze and drugs, doesn't fall foul of the thousands of rules that these places have and is not the cause of a plane falling from the sky and then... and only the he might get $30 an hour.

 

I am a firm believer that unless on the min wage the market pays you what you are worth...  Young people need  "to get smart and streetwise" show more commitment to their work and stop moaning.

 

 

We live in truly hellish times.... Thank god for my support group on FaceBook.

In reply to by jin187

Faeriedust jin187 Wed, 04/25/2018 - 21:10 Permalink

Yes, but the real labor expense is those guys blowing bubbles in the corner offices, who take home $500K plus stock options every year for yacking on the phones with their friends all day long, or travelling around the country giving pep talks so vacuous that a high-school cheerleader could do a better job. A country that pays trash pickers $20/hr is in or will create an economic boom.  The country that pays airheads $500K while starving the trash-pickers collapses from the weight of its own garbage.

A social system can become "top-heavy" either by having too many "leaders" entitled to do nothing while too few "workers" try to do essential tasks . . . or by PAYING too FEW "leaders" far too much of its scarce resources while allocating too little to feed, clothe, and maintain those who do the work.  Either way, the system will collapse when inadequate resources and labor are devoted to maintaining its foundations.

In reply to by jin187

Faeriedust Boonster Wed, 04/25/2018 - 21:15 Permalink

I order through Amazon once a year.  Christmas.  About $100.

Everything else I buy locally or order from smaller operations specializing in the item. I loved Amazon when it was the world's most amazing book store.  But their website has become torment to navigate and their policies range from irritating to infuriating.  Now that everyone has their own website, I buy direct from the publishers.

In reply to by Boonster

MoreFreedom Pigeon Thu, 04/26/2018 - 10:13 Permalink

"We lost truly free markets a long time ago. Now it's all about govt cronyism and oligarchs."

You forgot to mention all the HR laws (many the result of union desires) that make employing anyone more costly than necessary.   One rule of economics is that if an employer doesn't make a profit from an employee, there won't be a job for that employee for long.   And it appears there are a lot of other people who'll be happy to take the jobs of protesting Amazon workers.

In reply to by Pigeon

Chupacabra-322 jcaz Wed, 04/25/2018 - 11:52 Permalink

Coincidentally, the owner of the Post also has a major stake in letting Mueller do his work to preserve America’s surveillance and spying complex. In 2013, the same year that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos bought the paper that broke Watergate for $250 million, Amazon Web Services landed a $600 million deal with the US intelligence community. According to a 2017 Washington Post story, AWS created a “cloud storage service designed to handle classified information for U.S. spy agencies,” including the CIA. The cloud technology  was to “usher in a new era of cooperation and coordination, allowing agencies to share information and services much more easily.”

 

And now some intelligence and data experts believe that the CIA cloud is how the Obama administration could have minimized its trail after unmasking US persons. “The NSA database, with its large and ongoing collection of electronic communications, can be accessed through the NSA’s cloud,” says one former senior intelligence official. The NSA can audit it and find out if analysts are violating rules. The NSA does not audit the CIA’s cloud, which is audited by the CIA’s IT people and Amazon Web Services employees who are given security clearances. Says the former official: “There are people in the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the National Security Council staff who can move information from the NSA cloud into the CIA cloud. That seems the likeliest scenario to explain how Obama officials first unmasked US persons and then shared information without leaving a trail that could be audited independently, or immediately, at every step. Since unmasking, by itself, is authorized for lawful purposes, it’s the processing and sharing, as with Susan Rice’s spreadsheets, that tell us if the information was being misused.”

Presumably, the owner of Amazon is not eager to have Amazon customers see that the company with their credit card data and buying and viewing habits on file may have facilitated the US government’s spying on American citizens to advance a campaign of political warfare.

 

Mueller’s assembled constituents—from spies to political operatives, and from the press to big data/big business—must look something like what some on the left as well as the right have called the “Deep State,” a sinister-sounding phrase conjuring up dark images of cutthroat Turkish paramilitary operatives. But that’s not really what happened here—even the top spooks involved in Russiagate, like former CIA director John Brennan, have spent most of their careers inside Washington mastering nothing darker than the bureaucratic arts of ass-covering and blame-mongering.

 

http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/257335/robert-muellers-beltway-cover-up

In reply to by jcaz