Amazon Has Turned a Middle-Class Warehouse Career into a McJob
Article

Amazon Has Turned a Middle-Class Warehouse Career into a McJob

Bloomberg, 2020

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Amazon’s impact on retail is undeniable, but as Matt Day and Spencer Soper report for Bloomberg, its fast growth and increasing power now affect other industries. The e-commerce titan is becoming a force in logistics – moving goods from warehouses to buyers. The opening of many Amazon warehouses across the United States coincided with downward pressure on local logistics workers’ salaries. These workers, who have long enjoyed union protection and good pay, worry that the rapid growth of Amazon’s fulfillment operations threatens salaries industry-wide. A twist may be in the offing: In 2021, Amazon workers in an Alabama facility are likely to vote on a proposal to unionize.

Summary

Union workers in the logistics industry view Amazon as a threat to their livelihood.

Jobs in logistics – the business of transporting products from warehouses to consumers – have traditionally served as stepping-stones to a more affluent life, especially for those without a college education. But as Amazonopens more and more non-union fulfillment centers, it may be dragging down logistics wages in many communities it has entered. The retailer has so far managed to keep unions out of its US enterprises, but the pressure to unionize is growing.

Starting pay at Amazon warehouses is $15 an hour, which comfortably exceeds the federally mandated minimum wage. The company also offers health insurance, an uncommon benefit in entry-level positions. This combination has drawn recruits from lower-paid retail or logistics jobs.Nevertheless, many of these workers say they struggle to get by on their Amazon wages. A US Government Accountability Office study of nine states found that more than 4,000 Amazon warehouse workers use food stamps.

The work offers few opportunities for advancement. Because the fulfillment...

About the Authors

Matt Day reports for Bloomberg Technology, with a focus on Amazon. Spencer Soper covers e-commerce for Bloomberg.


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