Amazon, the most powerful public company in the world (worth nearly $800 billion at the beginning of 2019), has humbly decided to declare a two-day holiday for itself, Prime Day, which takes place today and tomorrow.
To celebrate the holiday, Amazon hired Taylor Swift and SZA to perform a concert for Prime members that was streamed on its video platform.
While Prime members are excited about the discounts, some workers view this holiday differently. In fact, some of Amazon’s Minnesota workers are going on a six-hour strike during the holiday. And its German workers just began a strike two days ago, demanding that there be “no more discounts on our income.” Of course, with the increased demand from more orders during the holiday, these work stoppages can’t be easy for Amazon to handle.
Amazon can’t break its promise of two-day shipping – especially on its own corporate holiday.
In fact, the two-day shipping requirement that has since become an expectation, regardless of how reasonable it can be achieved, has certainly affected the culture. John Oliver’s recent investigative reporting on Amazon included some current and former employees alleging that the work is too back-breaking and mentally exhausting to pull off, as employees walk from one end of the warehouse to the other – covering upwards of a half-marathon over an eight-hour day – with minimal regard for safety and wellbeing. Amazon disagreed with the report, and explained that its workers are treated well and compensated fairly for their demanding job, at $15 per hour.
Furthermore, some allege that Amazon’s practices are not good for the environment. A sustainable logistics professor at MIT, Josué Velázquez-Martínez, explained “When customers want to receive a product in one or two days, the carbon emissions increase substantially. If you are willing to wait a week, it’s like killing just 20 trees instead of 100 trees.” Of course, the last mile of shipping is the most harmful in terms of carbon emissions, which is why, to their credit, Amazon has encouraged its users to pick up packages at centers across the U.S.
Finally, Amazon also is one of the biggest contributors to U.S. politics. Sixty-seven percent of Amazon’s and its senior employees’ political contributions benefit the Democratic party. And with a “Very High” combined contribution level, Amazon has more than its fair share of leverage and power with leadership on both sides of the aisle. Amazon is certainly one of the companies that has undermined individual votes and substantially altered the public political dialogue – for better or for worse.