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Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, may be experiencing some labor pains of a kind after protesters showed up outside his lavish Beverly Hills, Calif. house on Sunday afternoon, October 4, to demand improved terms and conditions of employment at the online retail giant during what was dubbed “The Wrong Amazon is Burning” rally.
A group known as The Congress of Essential Workers (TCOEW) comprised of present and former Amazon warehouse workers, reportedly organized the march, which also included a coalition of labor and environmental activists. A $30 minimum wage for all Amazon employees is among the causes that they are championing.
The demonstrators want the company to implement more effective and far-reaching protocols at company facilities where COVID-positive cases have occurred. “They are also demanding a $2-an-hour hazard pay increase, paid leave for employees who receive a COVID-19 test until the test results are confirmed, a ‘1-3 percent Federal Wealth Tax,’ and free child care and health care, among other demands,” Beverly Hills Patch reported.
Protesters carried a large banner that read “Tax Bezos.” Against that backdrop TCOEW explained, in part, in a statement that “We demand that Jeff Bezos and the rest of the billionaire class pay their fair share to deal with the climate crisis. We are calling for a decent living wage of $30/hour minimum for all Amazon employees, Medicare and childcare for all, and the right to unionize without fear of retaliation.”
Amazon recently revealed that from March 1 to September 19, 2020 approximately 20,000 of its front-line staff members test positive for COVID or were presumed positive, which it claimed was 42 percent lower than expectations. The company has implemented a series of measures to improve its coronavirus response.
Former Amazon warehouse manager Chris Smalls is reportedly one of the leaders, if not the principal leader, of the protest movement. Amazon claims that Smalls was let go for violating social distancing guidelines, but he maintains that was a pretext, and he was really fired for organizing a work stoppage because of the alleged lack of personal protective equipment and the need for hazard pay.
“You don’t need Jeff Bezos. He needs us,” he declared through a bullhorn outside Bezos’ $165 million mansion.
Signage carried by protesters also reportedly read “f*** Bezos,’ ‘your greed is killing us,’ ‘abolish billionaires’ and ‘share with your country!'”
Jeff Bezos is among the cohort of liberal billionaires who generally already support a variety of left-wing causes, but that doesn’t seem to be buying, as it were, any goodwill with the activists.
For the ordinary consumer, Amazon provides convenient access to a huge array of products with rapid delivery, particularly with Amazon Prime membership. Over the long term, however, monopolistic practices in any industry become problematic for both consumer and worker, as well as smaller businesses that are trying to compete. Amazon currently accounts for nearly 40 percent of the e-commerce market.
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