Amazon Everywhere

Ideas and Issues
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June 16, 2021

San Francisco

Talking to a longtime colleague and friend yesterday in the Mission in San Francisco, where pockets are still stubbornly trying to resist gentrification, invariably the conversation settled quickly into the Amazon watch, and we’re not talking about rainforest, unless that means the tech empire where money currently seems to be growing on trees.  We were talking about the rising anger around the globe of their workers.  That subject alone might make us unique.

MacKenzie Scott, the recently divorced wife of Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world this minute, managed to make the news again.  She dropped another couple of billion on random nonprofits including the Apollo Theatre in Harlem and Race Forward, our old friends.  The way Scott is throwing money around, eventually, like raindrops, it had to hit someone we knew.  Who knows what she is doing with her Amazon money, but she’s not biting the hand that fed her?  She claims she is going to empty the account, having given five billion last year as well, but poor thing, instead with the Amazon stock through the roof, she’s now worth $60 billion, according to reports.  It must be true, sometimes you just can’t give it away.  Not that there aren’t plenty of folks with their hands out.  Some of the beltway crowd were taking potshots at her for funding from the bottom and didn’t she know how much change “comes from the top,” because DC think tanks had their feelings hurt because money wasn’t showering on them like it usually does.  There’s no shame it seems when it comes to Amazon.

Bezos himself, while swearing after Bessemer that he was going to rethink how they deal with workers at Amazon, must have though better of it.  For his part, he’s going to fly to the moon.  Good luck with that!

My comrade and I discussed the global network of activist, organizers, and others that has been quietly forming in recent years to target Amazon, particularly in warehouses and its sub-distribution centers.  There have been strikes in several European countries.   A bunch of unions are following developments closely, but other than RWDSU, many of them are keeping their powder dry as they try to concoct a strategy.  Some good work in Minneapolis.  A lot of activity around New York City.  Amazon is the new Walmart.  For organizers, Amazon has become “target one.”  My friend felt there were positives that had come out of the Bessemer defeat that were encouraging for this global rising.

We can only hope so!