Prime day 2019 has arrived, and actually covers 2 days this year, July 15 and 16. The event was kicked off by a concert held for Prime members that featured the likes of Taylor Swift and SZA in the hopes of celebrating how great it is to be a Prime member. The problem here is that Prime isn’t so great for everybody.
In Minnesota, for example, workers are planning a six-hour walkout to demand safer conditions, better wages and more secure employment. The problem extends overseas as well with more than 2,000 workers in Germany going on strike for more than 2 days. Add on to that the well known or suspected poor work conditions, and the fact that amazon routinely tries to keep its workers from unionizing, and it’s easy to see why workers may be feeling like they are pushed into a corner.
If you’ve ever worked in retail, you can probably sympathize. Think of a restaurant during Valentines, or a grocery store during Thanksgiving. Peak times put stress on employees, and their reward is usually just continued employment. Piling on the fact that Amazon has recently begun promising one-day shipping, increasing pressure and demands on workers who were already struggling to get by with 2-day shipping.
“As soon as we clock in, we’re pushing our bodies and minds to the limit on these machines, feeling like robots a lot of the time getting the stuff out,” William Stolz, a picker who gathers products for orders at an Amazon fulfillment center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, said in an interview with Gizmodo. He’s been with the company for 2 years. “Amazon’s working conditions have to change if they’re going to actually start treating us like human beings with dignity. A lot of the jobs they have are still temporary. We want Amazon to provide safe and reliable jobs. Right now it’s not the case.”
As workers fight for their jobs and better conditions, though, it is all too easy for Amazon to simply fire them, hire someone new and continue on as normal. These are unskilled jobs after all, and people always need money. How then can Amazon workers hope to win? The answer is probably with shoppers.
Though organization efforts have not reached out to try and dissuade people from shopping on what is basically an Amazon Holiday, they shouldn’t really have to. Amazon is one of the biggest, monolithic companies in the world. They don’t fear their workers, they fear their shoppers. It’s easy to say that workers should strike, or unionize or walk out of the job in order to get Amazons attention, but the truth is that that probably won’t work. If there is any hope of treating the nameless faces that get your online orders to your door in 1 or 2 days with respect, then the effort has to come from outside the website.
That’s no easy task. With Prime Day 2019 set to be the biggest yet, it’s difficult to expect people to give up on great deals. But you have the whole year to buy frivolous things you don’t really need. Taking 2 days off from supporting a shady company in solidarity with exploited workers won’t kill you.
Make a difference this year and boycott Prime Day. Save your purchases for next week and show Amazon workers that no item is worth a human being’s dignity and health.
Caleb Edwards is a senior studying professional writing with a focus in editing and publishing. When he isn’t working or writing you can find him tending his fish, taking care of his cats and dogs or trying to find free time that he can waste (there never is any). You can follow him on Twitter @CEdwardsSam or find him at his website CalebMEdwards.com.