Amazon is now powerful enough to push its own holiday onto the calendar. Starting Monday, Prime Day will kick off with an avalanche of deep discounts — and Amazon is doing everything it can to make sure it feels festive. In fact, the company is doing so much, it might make you uncomfortable.
Last Wednesday, the company hosted an exclusive concert for Prime members, with performances from SZA and Taylor Swift. It was a bit tacky, but the general message to users was unmistakable: it’s good to be a Prime member! (“As Alexa launches into an original rap about Jane Lynch,” one reviewer raved, “I can feel my soul scream to be delivered back into the ethereal mush of the pre-born realm, to begin again brand new.”) It’s particularly inescapable online, where deal roundups and alerts flood websites (including this one) to a level not even Christmas can match.
Not everyone feels festive. In Minnesota, workers at an Amazon warehouse are planning a six-hour work stoppage to demand safer conditions and more secure employment. The workers plan to protest outside the warehouse on one of the busiest fulfillment days of the year, joined by engineers from the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice group.
Those fulfillment centers have been a sore point for some time now (a Verge report found hundreds of workers fired in just over a single year at one Baltimore warehouse) and the action in Minnesota is designed to leverage Prime Day’s attention into actual change. If you risk spoiling Amazon’s big day, the thinking goes, they’ll be more likely to address the problem.
It’s turned out to be a popular idea. Even more far-flung parts of the Amazon empire are getting involved. Workers at seven sites across Germany — Amazon’s second largest market after the US — will also go on strike Sunday night and into Monday under the moto “No more discount on our incomes,” reports Reuters. Unions in Germany have been battling Amazon over better pay and conditions for logistics workers since 2013. One prominent Twitch streamer pledged not to stream during Prime Day as a gesture of solidarity. It makes that endless string of Prime Day deals seem a little more troubled. Is taking advantage of Amazon’s flash sale akin to crossing the picket line?
Crucially (and perhaps surprisingly), none of the striking workers have called on shoppers to boycott Prime Day sales. There’s no official guidance on how shoppers should support the strike, and many of the striking workers who talked to The Verge were ambivalent on the question. In some sense, it’s beside the point. The strike is meant to show that the success of Prime Day depends on warehouse workers — but that message is more about fulfillment queues than sales numbers. Solidarity is always welcome in a strike, but it’s hard to draw a clear, straight line from the workers’ demands to the Buy button.
Amazon DOUBLES minimum wage and Employees Still Walk Out
Employees at an Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minn., plan to walk off the job Monday during the last 3 hours of the day shift and the first 3 hours of the night shift. They say although Amazon has raised hourly wages to between $16 and $20 — more than double the federal minimum — the company sets unrealistic expectations and quotas.