Amazon Protests and Trendy Activism
According to Forbes Magazine, more than 80 million people (64% of households) in America alone are Amazon Prime members. The shopping website Amazon launched in 2005 and has expanded to countries around the globe, becoming the world’s most used online shopping site. Recently, the harsh and unfair working conditions of some of their employees has come to light. As reported by Newsweek, some of their warehouse workers are being paid as little as 11 dollars per hour—less than some students at Packer are paid for babysitting gigs. Additionally, some workers have told stories about having such tight deadlines that they had to resort to urinating in bottles and trash cans. This type of news is not only common for Amazon, but many other large companies such as Walmart and fast food chains.
Despite the universal issue of poor working conditions and underpaid employees, this problem is not commonly talked about here at Packer, at least not on the same scale as many other movements. While talking about why this might be, Nick Yohn (‘21) said, “At Packer for the most part— and I don’t want to generalize— but a common denominator is a high socioeconomic status and privilege. Stuff like the Me Too movement and gun control does not really discriminate based on socioeconomic status, so it affects people who are like ‘us’ more so than poor mistreatment of workers.”
It seems to be a common trend at Packer that people only want to take a stand when it does not affect or bring their own privilege to light. As Lea Wong (‘21) says, “activism at Packer is often seen as a trendy thing, so we are going to follow movements that are trendy. Obviously this is a generalization and I don’t want to make it seem like people aren’t marginalized, but I do think that the culture here is searching for ways in which you can be marginalized using certain identifiers even if they don’t affect you in huge ways. I feel like a lot of Packer students like to think that they suffer more than they do because it is easier than acknowledging that you are privileged.”
Unlike other movements that Packer supports, workers’ rights are something that may be harder for Packer students to relate to. Amazon is a company that greatly benefits a majority of people here at Packer. The company exists is for the purpose of convenience, and its users love it for that. It is an issue that does not only not relate to us, but helps us.
Despite their poor working conditions and recent protests, not many people seem to be aware of or even care about what is happening. Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, will most likely not feel pushback or be penalized despite the way the company has been treating their workers. This is the reality of large, popular companies in America.