Tuesday, August 16, 2022

TikTok Influencers Push to Unionize Amazon

These people are kids with millions of followers on social media.  And they're demanding Amazon pay its workers $30.00 an hour. Right. Fucking brats. 

At WaPo, "Gen Z TikTok creators are turning against Amazon":

A coalition of top TikTok stars is pledging to cease all work with Amazon — including shutting down storefronts and halting new partnerships with the e-commerce platform — until the company meets the demands of the Amazon Labor Union.

Boasting a combined following of over 51 million, the group of 70 TikTok creators says that the campaign, called the “People Over Prime Pledge,” is designed to pressure Amazon to meet the requests of its workers, which include a $30 minimum wage, increased paid time off and halting activities the group considers “union busting.”

“Amazon’s widespread mistreatment of their workers and blatant use of union busting tactics will no longer be tolerated by the TikTok Community,” reads a statement from Gen Z For Change, an advocacy group that coordinated the pledge and works frequently with creators.

Amazon Labor Union, which did not help organize the People Over Prime Pledge, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The campaign is a public setback for Amazon, which has sought to develop tighter relationships with young influencers in recent years. In 2017, the company launched the Amazon Influencer Program, allowing creators to earn revenue by recommending products in personalized Amazon storefronts. Earlier this year, Amazon flew more than a dozen Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok stars to a luxurious retreat in Mexico to encourage influencers to grow their presence on the platform. In June, Amazon built a massive VIP lounge at VidCon, an annual conference for online video stars, where influencers could learn about ways to work more closely with the company.

Instagram knows you don't like its changes. It doesn't care.

“I think their method of offering influencers life-changing payouts to make them feel as if they need to work with them while also refusing to pay their workers behind the scenes is extremely wrong,” said Emily Rayna Shaw, 24, a TikTok creator with 5.4 million followers who has partnered with Amazon in the past. “I want to feel comfortable recommending Amazon products to my community because it is so reliable, but I can’t do so until I know that they are treating their workers fairly.”

Many of the creators behind the People over Prime Pledge have done promotional deals with the company but plan to shut down their storefronts and decline future partnerships because of concerns over worker treatment. Creators who have worked with Amazon say that the company requires them to sign nondisparagement agreements, so that they can’t speak negatively about the platform even when the deals are over.

Amazon — which is the second-largest private employer in the U.S., where it has a higher rate of worker injuries than its competitors — has increasingly become a target for organized labor. In April, the independent Amazon Labor Union won an election at a large fulfillment center in Staten Island, marking a major union victory. Amazon workers are also organizing facilities in Bessemer, Ala.; Garner, N.C.; Albany, N.Y.; Campbellsville, Ky., and San Bernardino, Calif.

But the company has cracked down on these efforts, disciplining, firing, and even calling the police on some workers who show support for unions. The National Labor Relations Board has said some of the company’s conduct violates labor law, but the agency has limited resources to police a company of Amazon’s size. Even at the warehouse where Amazon Labor Union won the election, the company has successfully delayed the start of the contract-bargaining process, which itself could take months or years to complete.

[Amazon could stymie unions for years by going to the courts.]

Jackie James, 19, a TikTok creator with 3.4 million followers said that she will not be doing deals with Amazon until they change their ways. “As an influencer, it’s important to choose the right companies to work with,” she said. “I don’t think that workers should be treated the way they are under Amazon.”

Yet as labor organizing efforts within Amazon have hit speed bumps — Amazon Labor Union lost a second election in Staten Island in May — the movement has remained high profile, attracting support from Sen. Bernie Sanders and President Biden. Amazon Labor Union president Chris Smalls appeared on a prominent Twitch stream last week, and the hashtag #hotlaborsummer has popped up on Twitter.

Amazon has previously denied discontent among its workers, arguing turnover is a function of the company’s flexibility. “A large percentage of people we hire are re-hires, showing that they will choose to work for us when they want to,” Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokeswoman, told The Post in June. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.

“We’re demanding that Amazon listen to their workers and make changes to provide a healthy workplace environment,” said Aidan Kohn-Murphy, founder of Gen Z For Change, who also posts on TikTok. “Until Amazon institutes these changes, we as creators will block Amazon from monetizing one of the largest social media platforms in the world.” ...