Amazon offering 25 to 55 cents raises at damage control meetings
Amazon has been in perpetual damage control mode since a cavalcade of negative reports emerged on their pay and treatment of workers. Those workers have now told the press that they’ve been given raises of 25 to 55 cents an hour at meetings this past week.
“It must suck to be an indentured servant, but they can’t go anywhere else,” said KIRO Radio’s John Curley.
The workers’ conditions at Amazon fulfillment centers have been the subject of attention since it was reported that thousands rely on federal assistance, and that the median pay last year was $28,446. Sen. Bernie Sanders even introduced a bill calling on Amazon to pay a living wage.
“They think this is bad pr, that it’s a bad look,” said co-host Tom Tangney. “Jeff Bezos said when that first report came out a few years ago, ‘I don’t even recognize this company. I can’t believe this is the same company that I’m in charge of.’ They’re changing things now, but not by much.”
At the meetings, employees are told about the raises and benefits, and encouraged to clap, reports The Washington Post.
Amazon workers at the whim of the industry’s direction
For Curley, many of these workers are in a difficult position considering their value in the market.
“The thing is that the individual that goes there and applies for a job and gets it, and they say, ‘Here’s how much we’re paying. Do you want to do the job?’ You are really in a down position,” he said.
“When you have no marketable skills you are at the whim of which way the industry’s going. It sucks, but when you don’t have any skills, you’re at the bottom of the barrel and that’s where you are.”
Tom wonders why Amazon doesn’t make more of an effort to elevate these positions.
“There are certain limits. Why not try to be the company that everybody wants to be working for in these fulfillment centers? When they offer these great tech jobs, people want them, they do all these benefits,” he said. “Why don’t they do a better job of making these fulfillment centers not such hard places to work?”
But Curley believes the company has a system worked out, and knows that people will gravitate to the jobs regardless.
“They’re thinking of putting these things on workers’ wrists so they know how often you move your hands. The eight-hour guy standing there picking, packing and shipping can pick, pack, and ship 75 boxes an hour — I’m just making these numbers up — it costs us X, it costs us Y to pay this guy a certain amount of money. They’ve got it all worked out. And that’s the value that person contributes to Amazon,” Curley said.
“But it’s a kind of dehumanization that they’ve got to watch out for,” Tom said.