We need large organizations that bring people and their power together to insist that people matter and deserve a voice in shaping the world in which we live—in short, in recognizing people’s equality.
On the whole, as a culture, we don’t speak much of the nation’s failure to extend democracy and civil rights to workers, tending to prioritize the rights of private property and capital
Not too many Americans had a good year financially in 2020. Jeff Bezos, however, had a banner year. The fortune of the Amazon founder only grew while people were stuck in their houses.
Amazon has been heavily criticized for the pay and treatment of its workers despite massive profits. On Monday, the online retailer celebrated its Prime Day, offering major discounts on popular items. Bill de Blasio encouraged New Yorkers to instead shop locally.
The New York City mayor said during a press conference, “Today is Prime Day, it’s a perfect day not to shop Amazon. It’s a perfect day to keep it local, to buy from your neighborhood stores. It’s a perfect day to shop your city. Keep the money in our city, support our small businesses. Also, it’s a perfect day to show solidarity with Amazon workers.”
de Blasio continued, “Amazon literally made record profits last year, but they don’t seem to want to share them with working people.”
The New York City mayor shared a similar message on his Twitter page. He posted, “Prime Day is a great day to NOT support a corporation that doesn’t pay its fair share in taxes or share the wealth with their employees. Today, and every day, support our local businesses, keep your money in your community, and shop local.”
Prime Day is a great day to NOT support a corporation that doesn’t pay its fair share in taxes or share the wealth with their employees.
Today, and every day, support our local businesses, keep your money in your community, and shop local. pic.twitter.com/cYZdA13iKp
The broader question is, after years of decline, do unions have a future? And should the vast majority of Americans even care?
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is afraid of his workers unionzing because they would “take on his greed.” Sanders’s statements come amid the news surrounding the union drive at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama and today’s deadline for handing ballots over to the regional National Labor Relations Board office.
“Jeff Bezos, worth $180 billion, is getting nervous. He’s afraid that if Amazon workers in Alabama vote to unionize, it’ll give workers all over America the courage to take on his greed & win economic justice. He’s spending millions against this union to keep billions for himself,” Sanders said.
While Republicans love to falsely claim that tax cuts for the wealthy pay for themselves through increased economic activity, in the case of increasing the minimum wage, it’s actually true.
Following the November election, Donald Trump essentially stopped doing his job. And it was a bad time to stop as the coronavirus had raged out of control for the last two months. The ex-President ignored the crisis, preferring to complain about imaginary election fraud.
Joe Biden, however, has made getting COVID-19 vaccines into American arms his number one priority. Today, Team Biden introduced a plan to combat the coronavirus and Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke to reporters.
Amazon, seeing how serious Biden is treating the pandemic, has offered to help with logistics. On Thursday, Lindsey Graham blasted the company for not making the same offer to Donald Trump.
Graham made the comments to Fox News Sandra Smith. She asked him, “if it turns out that Jeff Bezos and Amazon put politics ahead of public health, should there be some sort of accountability there?”
Lindsey Graham is livid because Amazon is helping Biden deliver the vaccine, but didn’t help Trump. pic.twitter.com/N67IxezEEL
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) January 22, 2021
President Donald Trump attempted to blame Amazon for problems with the United States Postal Service (USPS) as his administration faces heightened scrutiny amid reports that they’re interfering with the postal service to impact November’s general election.
“Amazon and other companies like it, they come and they drop all of their mail into a post office,” Trump said in an interview with “Fox & Friends.” “They drop packages into the post office by the thousands and then they say, ‘Here, you deliver them.’ We lose $3 and $4 a package on average. We lose massive amounts of money.”
Trump suggested the postal service could become financially solvent if it raised delivery rates to compete with online retailers.
“This guy is supposed to be so wealthy, so let him pay for it,” he said, appearing to refer to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the House back in session to work on a proposal to block the Trump administration’s attempts to undermine the postal service.
“Alarmingly, across the nation, we see the devastating effects of the President’s campaign to sabotage the election by manipulating the Postal Service to disenfranchise voters,” Pelosi said in a letter to fellow House Democrats yesterday. “That is why I am calling upon the House to return to session later this week to vote on Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman [Carolyn] Maloney’s ‘Delivering for America Act,’ which prohibits the Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service it had in place on January 1, 2020.”
Recently Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters for The Washington Post Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig published their assessment of Donald Trump’s presidency to date, seeking to step out of the news cycle and “assess the reverberations” of his administration throughout the nation. Titled A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America, the book layers scene after scene of Trump’s ineptitude, prioritization of self-interest over care for the nation’s well-being, and general lack of any moral compass or intellectual rigor.
As Dwight Garner, in his review for The New York Times characterized the tale Rucker and Leonnig weave, “It reads like a horror story, an almost comic immorality tale. It’s as if the president, as patient zero, had bitten an aide and slowly, bite by bite, an entire nation had lost its wits and its compass.”
The story is a compelling one, and one seemingly validated for Americans by what we have witnessed in the impeachment hearings played out in the House of Representatives and now in the ongoing trial in U.S. Senate.
The wealthy businessman Trump, corrupt to the core, is dismantling democracy and putting the nation’s well-being and security at risk for his own private gain and ego interests.
And yet we shouldn’t let the high drama of the very necessary impeachment process distract us from the more mundane threats to American democracy that seem to have become largely accepted in American life but which are no less deleterious to the American people and our supposed political ideals than Trump’s presidency is.
As an example of what I’m talking about, take billionaire Jeff Bezos and his Amazon empire, which includes, by the way, The Washington Post.
The admonitory slogan of The Washington Post is, of course, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”
The sentiment is a warm and fuzzy one for sure, even articulating a noble mission and role for the free press in sustaining our democracy.
And Jeff Bezos’ dollars nobly enable that mission.
But what he “gives” with one hand (it is a business after all), he taketh with the other, underscoring the severely limited application of democratic principles throughout American society.
And can we call a form of government that limits democratic rights in practice a democracy at all?
Bezos’ Amazon, for example, recently threatened to fire its employees who spoke out publicly against the company’s environmental policies.
As Annie Palmer reported for CNBC earlier this month, employees reported that Amazon’s policy on workers’ external communications was updated last September and now “requires employees to seek prior approval to speak about Amazon in any public forum while identified as an employee.”
The Amazon Employees for Climate Justice tweeted in response to the suppression of employee free speech:
How will the world remember Jeff Bezos in the era of climate emergency? Will he use his immense economic power to help, or not?Please tell @Amazon and @JeffBezos: Our world is on fire & desperately needs climate leadership. Stop silencing employees who are sounding the alarm.
It needs to be stressed, of course, that Amazon’s suppression of its workers’ speech is not illegal and certainly not unique.
In other words, Americans do not enjoy democratic rights in the workplace. U.S. law allows for the denial of First Amendment rights when you are at work, as I’ve written about previously for PoliticusUsa.
So, as conceived currently in our nation’s legal codes, the most sacred tenets of democracy are only applicable in American life on a part-time basis. Ask Colin Kaepernick.
When you are at work for 40 to 60 hours per week, please know that democracy is on hold. Please leave your rights in your locker before you punch your time card.
Sometimes it’s even worse.
Remember Juli Briskman, a marketing executive at Akima, a government contracting firm, who was fired for flipping off President Trump’s motorcade while riding her bike? She wasn’t even at work. Because she had been photographed and the photograph had been published with great popularity, she identified herself to her company and was promptly called into a room and fired for violating code-of-conduct policies. Clearly, she did not have the right to express herself as she chooses, even outside of the workplace, without consequences for her employment.
Democracy dies in the workplace, and certainly at Amazon, where, similar to many companies, workers’ efforts to unionize are vigorously resisted. Like Target and Walmart, among others, Amazon has produced its own anti-union video that is part of employee training.
And the union structure, which collectively organizes workers and negotiates their rights and remuneration, is the main and really only means for workers to have a voice in their workplace, where they spend a good deal of their lives contributing to the world in which we all live.
Bezos and Trump have a long adversarial history, as they spar over the size of their . . . bank accounts.
foiled a Pentagon contract
Amazon’s second headquarters — called HQ2 — will be in Northern Virginia’s Crystal City and in New York City, The Washington Post reported last night.
The company is expected to announce today that it is splitting its additional HQ location that will create up to 50,000 jobs, between the two East Coast major cities.
The decision will end months of intense competition among many different North American cities to win over
Bernie Sanders is on a battleground tour to help Democratic candidates in the November elections and he may make a big difference in close races.
Sanders has a full October travel schedule, and this is his longest stretch of campaigning since he stopped his 2016 presidential campaign. He is going to many states, including Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada, where there are very important early primaries or caucuses on the 2020 presidential election calendar.
Sanders has not decided yet is he is going to launch another campaign for president in 2020. He’s expected to announce his decision in just a few months. The results of his upcoming tour will probably influence his decision on whether to run or not.
According to the Associated Press, Sanders’ barnstorming tour will “allow him to test the durability of the left-leaning coalition he assembled in 2016 and build relationships with elected officials who could serve as allies should he run again.”
Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ 2016 campaign manager, had this to say about what the Vermont senator is doing:
“He wanted to go where he thinks he can be helpful in energizing the base and bringing in young people and independent voters and working-class voters who supported him.”
Bernie Sanders must be dancing a happy dance today. Early this morning Amazon announced that it is increasing its hourly minimum wage to $15 per hour for all full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees across the United States. A higher minimum wage has been one of Senator Sanders’ primary policy proposals for many years.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon‘s founder and CEO, said in a statement.
“We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us,” he added. The new hourly minimum wage rate is scheduled to take effect on November 1 and will benefit the more than 250,000 employees working at the retail giant. It will also benefit over 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired at Amazon sites across the country during the upcoming holiday season.
In addition, the company announced that the Amazon public policy team will now start to advocate throughout the country for an immediate increase in the federal minimum wage.
“We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago,” said Jay Carney, Senior Vice President of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs. “We intend to advocate for a minimum wage increase that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country.”
Amazon was also proud to announce that its corporate benefits package for its employees is the best in its industry. According to the statement, Amazon employees receive:
- Comprehensive healthcare, including medical, dental, and vision coverage</li>
- Company-paid life and disability insurance
- Up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave>
- 401k matching contributions
- Career Choice, which pre-pays 95% of associates’ tuition for courses in high-demand fields, whether those jobs are at Amazon or another company
- Career Skills, which trains hourly associates in critical job skills like resume writing, how to communicate effectively, and computer basics
his latest announcement is a great public relations move for the company, and is sure to deflect public criticism as it becomes a national leader in the push for the $15 minimum wage.
Trump thinks that Amazon and The Washington Post are the same company, and they are out to get him.
Trump loves to tweet, and now twitter is firing back at the president who has been posting some nasty tweets about Amazon and Jeff Bezos. Many people on the White House staff have tried to stop Trump from tweeting, but to no avail. Now former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara has come up with a great suggestion.
What if Jeff Bezos bought Twitter with the change in his pocket and shut Trump's account?
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) April 3, 2018
There are a LOT of people who would like Trump to stop tweeting, so shutting down his twitter account might not be a bad idea.
Bezos himself has his own idea for shutting down Trump’s tweets: He offered to give Trump a ride on a rocket ship, thinking that sending him to outer space would keep him quiet for a while.
Now we know why Trump has been attacking Amazon so fiercely in the press recently.
Amazon has become the latest retailer to announce that they are pulling all Confederate flag merchandise off of their website.
If Microsoft is seriously considering a cloud-based OS, then maybe where innovation is concerned, Microsoft ought to just stick to copying everything Apple does
Amazon Studios announced this week they had greenlit production of a pilot for an hour-long contagion thriller series, Hysteria. The story follows neurologist Dr. Logan Harlen as she returns to her hometown of Austin, Texas.