Amazon Faces Boycott as Public Discontent Grows Over Working Conditions and Anti-tax Lobbying

 An anti-Amazon rally in New York on 27 November. (Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock)
An anti-Amazon rally in New York on 27 November. (Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock)

The holiday season is all about spending the time with your loved ones and, judging by most office mailrooms, shopping on Amazon. Last year, 76% of Americans who shopped online for Christmas presents said that they planned to do most of that shopping on Amazon.

Amazon now accounts for just shy of half of all online sales in the US and Santa’s not so little helper is expected to have another bumper Christmas this year. But there are a growing number of people whose front steps won’t be graced by Amazon packages this festive season – consumers boycotting the online retailer.

No one denies the convenience of shopping on Amazon but for some there are a host of reasons – from the working conditions at Amazon warehouses, the company’s aggressive anti-tax lobbying, its impact on local business or its selling of white nationalist merchandise – that make that convenience too high a price to pay. But even those shoppers concede their boycotts come at a price.

Steven Shamrock, 51, had been considering boycotting Amazon for a while. First when he learned how Amazon workers were treated. Jeff Bezos might be one of the richest men in the world, but Amazon’s median salary is a paltry $28,446 a year. The second time Shamrock considered boycotting Amazon was when he read about the company’s dominance in web services. Amazon Web Services controls around 45% of the world’s cloud-computing capacity and provides the web services for customers ranging from Netflix to the CIA to the UK’s Ministry of Justice.

The last straw came in May of this year when he read that Amazon was banning customers who made too many returns.

“If a company gets so big, they can start picking and choosing their customers, it’s really not a business that promotes competition,” said Shamrock, who runs his own public accounting practice in the Chicago area. According to him, nothing is good in extremes, especially large companies that can end up controlling prices or distorting them. “I think anytime a company gets that large and gets that much economic power, it never ends well.”

Recently, Amazon announced that it was going to start paying its employees at least $15 an hour and that it will exert some of its influence on Capitol Hill to lobby for an increase in the federal minimum wage. While on the surface this announcement seems to benefit the workers, the move also benefits Amazon. With the unemployment rate dropping below 4% and fewer Americans looking for jobs, companies have been scrambling to attract potential job candidates. And in order to get all those Amazon Prime packages out on time for the holidays, Amazon had to hire 100,000 more people this year.

Shamrock, who said he might reconsider his boycott if the company were to treat its employees better, was not impressed by the news.

“The increase is still not to a living wage and I have not heard of any improvements in working conditions. We are still boycotting Amazon,” he said. His wife and their twin 21-year-old sons have also joined the boycott.

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SOURCE: Jana Kasperkevic
The Guardian