But if the company’s recent public statements are any indication, a small town in Alabama now has the tech giant on edge.
When asked for comment, Amazon spokesperson Heather Knox largely deferred to the blog post. Additionally, Knox said in a statement that the company doesn’t believe the union “represents the majority of our employees’ views.”
“Our employees choose to work at Amazon because we offer some of the best jobs available everywhere we hire, and we encourage anyone to compare our total compensation package, health benefits, and workplace environment to any other company with similar jobs,” the statement continued.
“While workers are fighting for basic and important issues like workplace safety, Amazon is focused on its fear of its own workers and lashing out at politicians. Amazon is afraid because it knows that workers have power when we speak up together,” the statement read.
Faisal Masud, who worked at Amazon in the 2000s and helped to launch its warehouse deals program and its AmazonBasics product line, said he “found it a little unusual frankly, our PR posture was always very reserved, it wasn’t to show off but to watch from the sidelines.” Masud, who now helps brands compete with Amazon as CEO of ecommerce startup Fabric, said Amazon is “so large now, maybe they’ve taken a different approach on how to tackle some of these challenges.”
Some industry watchers see in Amazon’s recent PR posture proof that the technology giant may be feeling newly vulnerable, given the potential for a fundamental upending of how it engages with its hundreds of thousands of US workers.
“The very pettiness of the attack against Bernie Sanders, and the comments made about workers, make the company look like it is very worried. It doesn’t mean that Amazon is going to lose, but it does make it look like they’re worried they’re going to lose,” said Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of Labor Education Research and a senior lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Likewise, Daniel Hanley, a reporter-policy analyst with the Open Markets Institute, an advocacy group critical of Big Tech’s influence and power, said Amazon “fears having a union because it knows it will lose the ability to exploit workers and that its operations will have checks and balances by the people who endure its decisions — as it should be.”
(In a statement to CNN Business, Amazon’s Knox said: “The fact is that Amazon already offers what unions are requesting for employees: industry-leading pay, comprehensive benefits from the first day on the job, opportunities for career growth, all while working in a safe, modern work environment.”)
At the same time, by vocally opposing a union push that has garnered national attention, Amazon risks not only turning off some of its workers but also local politicians — a group it may need if it wants to seek subsidies to build warehouses and offices in the future.
“The labor play they are engaging in is a really poor, myopic strategy because as soon as you signal you’re not going to support the people who work for your company locally, it has the threat of turning local policymakers against you as well,” McDonnell said.