Amazon: Everything Wrong With Corporate America and Treatment of Workers

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Technarchy, Aug 17, 2015.

  1. Technarchy macrumors 603

    Technarchy

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    #1
    The New York Times has published a scathing expose on Amazon that reveals deplorable treatment of workers in general, but especially women who have had miscarriages and cancer.

    Given this information I will NEVER buy another product on Amazon until show a complete shift in culture and treatment of workers. And no, the answer of "Just don't work there" is NOT acceptable. We should not allow business to treat workers in this way. This is not some great symbol of capitalism at work either. This is everything wrong with worker treatment, culture and the abuse by the 1% against everything that isn't of them.

    ...Now we know why CEO Jeff Bezos is worth $49.50 billion. By allowing his middle management hacks to fire women unable to show up for work after having stillborn children...


    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/t...g-big-ideas-in-a-bruising-workplace.html?_r=0

    Amazon wont get my business again. And no, issuing a PR statement is not good enough.
     
  2. rmbpuser macrumors 6502

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  3. FieldingMellish Suspended

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    #3
    Every business above a mom and pop will have a percentage of disaffected workers.

    The selectively reporting Times laps up this kind of story, as does Times readership, who instantly believe it and act on it and implore others to follow same.

    Out goes the old outrage and in comes the new, especially for the struggling Times.
     
  4. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #4
    Are you saying that employers should not be critized by virtue of them being employers? Where have I heard this before ;)
     
  5. Martin81 macrumors regular

    Martin81

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    #5
    Here in Germany we hear many stories that sound unbelievable at first.
    One example: Apparently the break starts when you leave your workplace. If you pack parcels the way to and through a security gate and to the room where you have your break (and back) is all counted as break. If a security gate is necessary to prevent theft, your breaktime should start after you are through there.
     
  6. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #6
    I had to stop reading the Times article mid-way through, it made me so angry.

    Amazon's horrible corporate culture will last only as long as its stock price allows it to do so. By rewarding managers who endure its hellish cultures long enough to reap a significant financial reward thanks to the appreciation in the their stock options, Amazon is effectively cheating the system that governs most normal companies human resources and other corporate culture.

    That can only continue so long. Amazon is a famously non-profitable company. While investors have been patient as the firm has waded into business after business, growing its top-line significantly - it has never made a significant profit. Rather the opposite, in fact.

    Any organization based on the principles described in the Times article is failing to attract and retain the sort of leadership it will ultimately need to thrive in the coming decades. Thats not much help to the deluded schlubs working for Amazon today.
     
  7. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #7
    I'm a NYTimes subscriber and as a general rule extremely supportive of workers rights, yet I'm not sure I'm too concerned about this - other than some of the specific cases of mistreatment of pregnant women/people dealing with family issues which should be dealt with specifically and of which similar examples would easily be found at any large corporation subject to this level of scrutiny.

    No, Amazon does not sound like a place that I'd like to work at this stage in my career, but there was a point when it would have been exhilarating. They are unwilling to accept inefficiency in any aspect of their business, and they work hard to make sure that it does not set in - which is part of the typical lifecycle of any corporation. I guess the main reason that I am not that concerned is because again - other than the specific kind of cases mentioned above - every workplace has its own culture and it is up to the individual to make sure they align with it. It doesn't appear that Amazon is breaking any laws, and in fact the conditions sound pretty much exactly like those described in many start-ups; the difference being that Amazon is bigger and more visible. But most importantly, these are not low-level workers being exploited, they are professionals at the top of their field in a market with high demand for their skills. Workers rights become most important when laws are being broken and/or they are effectively being coerced to work because of lack of mobility and options. That is not the case here so I fail to see the outrage.
     
  8. Arran macrumors 68040

    Arran

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    #8
    I'm sure they are. But there's nothing wrong with wanting a better job and a better life.

    And by "better" I mean their definition of better.

    And yep, after reading the Times article, I've deleted my credit card from my Amazon account. I'll not be needing it any more,. I'd have preferred to delete the account entirely, but I didnt see a quick way to.

    Amazon have been useful for hard-to-find items, but I'm not being part of this. I'll find alternatives and give others (less unbalanced than Bezos) the opportunity to earn my custom. Competition is great.
     
  9. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #9


    If you were an Amazon shareholder, how would you feel after reading that article?

    Because if I were in that position, I'd be extremely concerned that I was investing a company whose leadership was taking a very short-run approach.

    Human beings are biological entities. We very quickly reach a point of diminishing returns in our performance. Working longer hours produces
    results that very quickly plateau. Overwork; stress; and fatigue creates conditions where people's decision making process deteriorates. You might be making more decisions - but they generally are bad ones.
     
  10. Arran macrumors 68040

    Arran

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    #10
    Yeah, it all has a Ponzi scheme ring to it. Bribing managers into propagating inhumane nastiness by promising shares in two years.

    That'll only work for so long. The last chumps in will be left holding a big fat bag of nothing. Frankly, they deserve it.
     
  11. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    #11
    That NYT article was a sad commentary on the state of "investigative journalism" today. The author(s) clearly had an anti-Amazon bias, so they found several bitter ex-Amazon employees to relate uncorroborated anecdotal stories to support the author's pre-existing bias.

    It's amusing the number of people all over the Interwebs throwing tantrums and pronouncing to the world that "I'm done with Amazon" based on one article in the NYT.
     
  12. Technarchy thread starter macrumors 603

    Technarchy

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    #12
    Yay?

    :rolleyes:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #13
    I skim-read the article. It sounds like it's a cut throat business environment. I do agree that many (all?) of the cases cited were not bottom level employees being exploited, but the examples of treatment of pregnany and illness issues, would not instill a sense loyalty to the company, eventually hurting it. And if this is norm, IMO it's a bad sign, because ultimately we are not ants working for the good of the colony and the CEO, but expect a quid-pro-quo besides a paycheck, some basic human sympathy and understanding when we run into personal and health issues, without being axed at the first sign of trouble.

    I worked for a large corporation for decades and fortunately my job was well defined, and I had a union negotiating on my behalf for quality of life, sympathy, and understanding. ;)
     
  14. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #14
    More than likely I am an Amazon stock holder as parts of my portfolio are heavily tech biased.

    Anyhow, it wouldn't change my viewpoint because that view doesn't stem from any attachment I may or may not have to the company. Again, I don't think it sounds like a great place for me to work at this stage in MY life with 3 small children, but even in my own industry, there are all sorts of companies, many of whom I could have gone on to work for easily where the conditions are bad in their own way and I would not choose to work there. I'm in the same position though where my skills are in demand and I know that I could move to another company if necessary; and that's the key point of my position. These workers are not being coerced, they are being paid extremely well - signing bonuses, relocation bonuses, stock bonuses, etc. If Amazon chooses to run a company that churns through workers at a high rate because that is what keeps them dynamic, at this point, I'm not convinced there is anything wrong with that.
     
  15. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #15
    No company can be expected to succeed with every single one of their products or services. It's just not possible nor is it even desirable because if that becomes the goal then the company will become extremely risk-averse.
     
  16. Arran macrumors 68040

    Arran

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    #16
    Quite!

    Thet're all as bad as one another, but that's no excuse to lie down and let them walk over you.
     
  17. haxrnick macrumors 6502a

    haxrnick

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    #17
    You're from the area. Have you ever heard from one employee that was happy there? Working in SLU I see them and talk to them all the time. Never once have I. Similar to Microsoft. Most people I know are generally trying to just stick it out 5ish years to have Amazon on their resume.
     
  18. Arran macrumors 68040

    Arran

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    #18
    Hang on a minute. You can't just answer the least relevant part of Tech's post and then skip off.

    What about his withering "yay!" comment? Is it okay to be a dick because everybody else is? Where does that road take society?
     
  19. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #19


    I disagree with that assessment.

    The Times gave Amazon every opportunity to set the record straight before the article ran - and met with evasions just short of outright stonewalling.

    Lets be clear on this front: Its not much of a secret that Amazon, in the Seattle area and tech community nationwide, got a reputation as a somewhat unpleasant place to work. Those stories didn't appear out of thin air. As Nick Ciubotariu (the Amazon engineering manager who penned a spirited defense of the company on Linkdin) quotes an executive of the company:

    OK. Yeah - we used to be a hellish place to work. But not anymore. Honest.

    Forgive me for remaining less than totally convinced by that sort of argument. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

    Has Amazon reformed its practices? Maybe they have, for their white-collar workforce. But they sure as heck haven't done so for the legion of subcontractor workers at their distribution centers. They haven't reformed their practices with their vendor partners.

    But if Amazon and Jeff Bezos are serious about telling their side of the story, maybe the next time a reporter from the New York Times asks for an interview on something so important, they'll think twice before blowing them off.

    Asking tough questions, and uncovering harsh working conditions is the job of serious journalism.
     
  20. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #20
    I actually considered that part of the comment the least relevant, hence me ignoring it. No, you can't just narrow in on one company and a couple of examples of poor treatment of certain types of workers and then excoriate them while ignoring the fact that this kind of treatment happens in nearly every workplace to some extent - even - in my own recent experience, some of the most progressive in the country. It's not an accurate picture of any company as a whole.

    What I can believe happens at Amazon as outlined in the article but largely ignored in the outrage, is the difficulty that women likely have moving up in that kind of environment. It would be very difficult for most women to work in a place like that, let alone be promoted. When most of your colleagues are male, are willing to be outspoken and are inherently biased by women who exhibit the same characteristics as their male counterparts, then making the same kind of progress as a female is going to be difficult. However, once again, this is a problem inherent in most businesses today, especially tech businesses which tend to be male-dominated, and so singling out one company instead of treating it as the societal problem it is rooted in strikes me as making good journalism, but unlikely to produce much change.
     
  21. Arran, Aug 17, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2015

    Arran macrumors 68040

    Arran

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    #21
    On the contrary. Kick up a **** storm and make an example of them. The others will get the idea and get back in line.

    You're advocating doing nothing because the problem's just too big. That will achieve exactly nothing.

    You must do something. (Which is exactly what Amazon compels its employees to do)

    As a customer, I've dropped Amazon. That's all I can do. And I'm happy to do it.
     
  22. zhenya, Aug 17, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2015

    zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #22
    I don't advocate doing nothing, and I have actually been feeling that the NYT has actually been making me feel like my subscription is worth its price because of these kind of investigative journalism pieces. In this case, however, I can't help feeling like they chose perhaps one of the worst offenders because of how visible they are. Yes, it will probably drive some change in the company and maybe elsewhere, but I believe that even more could have been accomplished by narrowing in on one of the complaints - women's issues, sick time, something, and extending the investigation to more than just one company could have produced more tangible results.

    I guess that I feel the same way about this article as when Apple was in the spotlight about labor conditions; that they were targeted because of their visibility and the fact that it would make good headlines, rather than because it was the most effective way to drive change. You want to tackle labor conditions? You need to look at the industry as a whole, the country as a whole and investigate it in all its manifestations, not just look at a single company.
     
  23. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #23
    They interviewed more than 100 people, including current and former employees of the company.

    Moreover, while the company authorized "a handful of senior managers to talk to reporters for this article," Amazon declined "requests for interviews with Mr. Bezos and his top leaders."




    I think the article has struck a chord. People don't want other people to be treated this way. Personally, it reminded me of why I left corporate culture and why I'll never go back.

    (The joke around here is that I'm basically a house-trained coyote—I have manners, but I'm likely to eat the couch as anything else.)
     
  24. Arran macrumors 68040

    Arran

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    #24
    I'm not so sure your journalistic approach would work.
    • Narrowing the focus to just a single issue would lose the empathy of those unaffected by the issue. We all work, and we can all relate to dickish management. So keeping it wide and inclusive is good.
    • If the scope was widened to include all companies, then many readers would draw the conclusion that this is normal and acceptable and ignore the issue. Whether you intended to give that impression or not, you were apparently sailing dangerously close to that position yourself.

    No, I say name and shame and give the other errant companies an incentive not to be the next one so examined.
     
  25. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #25
    So, you would prefer they choose some obscure company?

    I disagree. As a reporter, if you hear that someone is doing something shady, you do a story. You don't discuss whether this is a small fry or a big fry, or more or less visible. You find something dirty, you swing the hammer.

    Worth another story perhaps. There's no reason the NYT can't go back and write about how Amazon's practices extend throughout tech companies. In fact, an article like this tends to shake the tree, creating dozens of sources who want to talk about their experiences at some other tech darling.

    Well, the pressure forced Apple to change and that created positive pressure for other companies to do the same thing. Sometimes hitting the biggest guy in the room is exactly the right tactic.
     

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