Getting Amazon employees to talk candidly about their company isn’t the easiest assignment in journalism. But what if you technically don’t work for Amazon, and yet the tech giant’s CEO is still your boss? We’re looking at you, Washington Post employees.
Huffington Post reporter Ashley Feinberg reached out to WaPo workers to see what they would say about Amazon if they weren’t worried about losing their jobs. Bezos bought the paper for $250 million back in 2013 and by all accounts he keeps his nose out of daily operations. But still, it’s bad practice to publicly poke the guy who pays your salary.
Post employees did call out their owner back in June, with a letter signed by more than 400 employees in which they lobbied for “fair wages; fair benefits for retirement, family leave and health care; and a fair amount of job security.”
But in the HuffPost piece, anonymous quotes shed more harsh light on how some feel about everything from Amazon’s treatment of workers to the fact that Post workers are glad they’re unionized.
Check out a few snippets below and go to Feinberg’s report to read more.
- “[Amazon] is kinda the perfect, terrifying example of what people are willing to ignore for the sake of convenience.”
- “Okay, so I’m not sure if this is exactly what you’re looking for, but I would say that i tend to do less critical thinking about Amazon than I do, say, about Facebook or Google or Walmart, and the reason is fairly obvious: because I am thankful for the opportunity I have, which wouldn’t exist without Jess Bezos. Absent a deep, more thoughtful analysis, do I have concerns about Amazon’s impact on the world ― labor practices, antitrust law and the future of small businesses? Yes. And would I say that out loud at work? No. Oh, I would also say that when you have a $1 trillion market cap, you ought to be able to afford health insurance for your warehouse employees.” [Ed. note: This employee was later eager to clarify that they meant “Jeff,” not “Jess.”]
- “Like everyone who thinks about it for more than a minute, I wish Amazon paid warehouse workers better, had better labor conditions, weren’t part of a monopoly-inclined tech culture, and didn’t put cities and states through the ridiculous torture of throwing tax incentives at one of the most valuable companies in the history of the world for a second headquarters they apparently had decided they needed to open anyway for business reasons. Nevertheless, like everyone who spends too much time on their phone and computer, I buy a lot of stuff there. …”
- “It is the ugliest site on the Internet. It’s as if some designer was directed to generate as many images, words and numbers as possible, and then arrange them in the most confusing and least attractive fashion they could muster. … Bezos has so much money, he is publicly mulling throwing it into a trash can in outer space while his employees have to donate vacation time to each other when they get cancer. Literally he would rather launch money into space for no purpose than give it to the people who work for him. I love working at the Post, but Amazon sucks.”
- “I’d say, ‘Please return our phone calls.’ But I guess every reporter would say that.”
Amazon reached out to GeekWire to counter some of what was said in the anonymous quotes.
“In fact, Amazon offers great wages and benefits for its hourly employees,” Amazon responded in its statement. “On top of the $15 minimum wage, full-time employees receive our industry-leading benefits which includes comprehensive insurance — health, medical, and vision — starting on day 1, 401(k) with a 50% match, 20-week paid parental leave, and Amazon’s innovative Career Choice program, which pre-pays 95% of tuition for courses in high-demand fields. Additionally, Amazon respects the rights of employees to choose to join or not join a labor union. We firmly believe the direct connection we have with employees is the most effective way to understand and respond to the needs of our employees.”
“We would be more than happy to give the newsroom of the Washington Post a fulfillment center tour so they can come see for themselves what it’s like to work at an Amazon fulfillment center,” the company concluded. “We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
UPDATED 3:44 P.M. to include Amazon’s statement.