Tag: Amazon

Ethics, Schmethics, Amazon Edition

Amason’s charity program supports hate groups.

Not a surprise.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the American Civil Liberties Union, or the America Nazi Party, Amazon gets its vig from purchases in either case:

AmazonSmile, which launched in 2013, would seem to be one of the mega-corporation’s less overtly awful functions: it’s a simple service that adds a surcharge to Amazon purchases and donates it to a participating charity of a shopper’s choice. However, UK-based media organization openDemocracy has found among those eligible charities were over 40 anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-choice groups.

I’ll put a bow on it, I’ll scream it, I’ll whisper it, but I am here to tell you that Amazon is a terrible company.

openDemocracy identified powerful anti-LGBTQ+ groups that are, at the time of this writing, live on AmazonSmile’s search portal. They list the Indiana chapter of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group the American Family Association, whose radio host and figurehead Bryan Fischer has said that the “Nazi party…was rooted in the homosexual movement.” There’s also Focus on the Family, which spawned the SPLC-designated hate group the Family Research Council. Of founder James Dobson, the SPLC writes that “no one has spread the anti-gay gospel as widely, or with as much political impact.”

We don’t know how much money these hate-mongering groups have raised directly via AmazonSmile, but this disturbing news has come to light at a time when Amazon’s revenue has gone through the roof thanks to a captive customer base stuck at home during a pandemic.


My old axiom, “If they treat their employees like sh%$, how do you think that they will treat you as a customer,” should be expanded from, “You as a customer,” to, “All of us as a society.” 

Amazon Ring Hacked to Abuse Homeowners

Given that Amazon’s model for its Ring security cameras is its ability to collect extensive data on its users, and their neighbors.

Their plan is to monetize your data, and to share your data with law enforcement to further additional sales.

This model, where there are hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals and organizations with access to the cameras, it should come as no surprise that their system was hacked, and the hackers used their control of the network to harass people:

Dozens of people who say they were subjected to death threats, racial slurs, and blackmail after their in-home Ring smart cameras were hacked are suing the company over “horrific” invasions of privacy.

A new class action lawsuit, which combines a number of cases filed in recent years, alleges that lax security measures at Ring, which is owned by Amazon, allowed hackers to take over their devices. Ring provides home security in the form of smart cameras that are often installed on doorbells or inside people’s homes.

The suit against Ring builds on previous cases, joining together complaints filed by more than 30 people in 15 families who say their devices were hacked and used to harass them. In response to these attacks, Ring “blamed the victims, and offered inadequate responses and spurious explanations”, the suit alleges. The plaintiffs also claim the company has also failed to adequately update its security measures in the aftermath of such hacks.


Ring has not said who is behind the hacks, and victims say they still do not know who accessed their homes through the devices.

Repeatedly, Ring blamed victims for not using sufficiently strong passwords, the suit claims. It says Ring should have required users to establish complicated passwords when setting up the devices and implement two-factor authentication, which adds a second layer of security using a second form of identification, such as a phone number.

However, as the lawsuit alleges, Ring was hacked in 2019 – meaning the stolen credentials from that breach may have been used to get into users’ cameras. That means the hacks that Ring has allegedly blamed on customers may have been caused by Ring itself. A spokesperson said the company did not comment on ongoing litigation.

The lawsuit also cites research from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others that Ring violates user privacy by using a number of third-party trackers on its app.

My old axiom applies, “If they treat their employees like sh%$, how do you think that they will treat you as a customer?”  

Amazon is a pernicious and corrupt organization, and cannot be trusted with your privacy.

If You Thought that Amazon Was Bad

Just watch what they are going to do to kill the unionization drive in Alabama.

This is going to make WalMart look like John L. Lewis:

Amazon.com Inc. workers at an Alabama warehouse received approval to hold a unionization vote, the first such election since 2014 at the nation’s second-largest employer, testing the potential for additional labor organizing at the retailing giant.

The National Labor Relations Board Tuesday ruled that employees at Amazon’s Bessemer, Ala., warehouse can decide whether to create a bargaining unit within the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, according to an NLRB official. The date of the election and other terms have yet to be determined. A hearing about the vote is scheduled for Friday.

A majority of the workers would have to choose unionization for the employees to gain representation. The Alabama warehouse has about 1,500 full- and part-time employees, according to the union, although Amazon has said the total is higher.

Though many hurdles remain, labor experts say a successful campaign by workers could inspire similar efforts at other Amazon warehouses. The company has more than 800,000 U.S. employees, second only to Walmart Inc. in the country, as well as more than 760 facilities in its fulfillment network, according to logistics consultant MWPVL International.


Hourly Amazon workers have never previously formed or joined a union in the U.S. The same is true at Walmart Inc., which has about 1.5 million U.S. employees.

This is untrue.  Wal-Mart had its butchers in one store unionize, and Wal-Mart fired all of its butchers in all of its stores in response, so for about a week, Wal-Mart was unionized.

The retailer has seen its toughest labor battles in Europe, where union participation is common in some countries and government authorities have been quicker to confront the company. A French court in the spring ordered Amazon to stop selling nonessential items while the company addressed coronavirus- safety measures, prompting Amazon to temporarily close its French warehouses.

While Alabama typically hasn’t been known for unionizing efforts, RWDSU represents workers across the poultry and healthcare industries in the state.

I’d say expect every dirty trick in the book to be deployed by Amazon, but the reality is that Amazon is going to go way past the book here.

Expect to see a level of evil heretofore unseen.

Amazon Again

We don’t care, we don’t have to ……… we’re Amazon.

The Monster from Seattle is engaging in a systematic program of spying on its workers and activists, because they don’t care, they don’t have to, they’re Amazon.

Seriously, this company is ineluctably evil:

A trove of more than two dozen internal Amazon reports reveal in stark detail the company’s obsessive monitoring of organized labor and social and environmental movements in Europe, particularly during Amazon’s “peak season” between Black Friday and Christmas. The reports, obtained by Motherboard, were written in 2019 by Amazon intelligence analysts who work for the Global Security Operations Center, the company’s security division tasked with protecting Amazon employees, vendors, and assets at Amazon facilities around the world.

The documents show Amazon analysts closely monitor the labor and union-organizing activity of their workers throughout Europe, as well as environmentalist and social justice groups on Facebook and Instagram. They also indicate, and an Amazon spokesperson confirmed, that Amazon has hired Pinkerton operatives—from the notorious spy agency known for its union-busting activities—to gather intelligence on warehouse workers.

Internal emails sent to Amazon’s Global Security Operations Center obtained by Motherboard reveal that all the division’s team members around the world receive updates on labor organizing activities at warehouses that include the exact date, time, location, the source who reported the action, the number of participants at an event (and in some cases a turnout rate of those expected to participate in a labor action), and a description of what happened, such as a “strike” or “the distribution of leaflets.” Other documents reveal that Amazon intelligence analysts keep close tabs on how many warehouse workers attend union meetings; specific worker dissatisfactions with warehouse conditions, such as excessive workloads; and cases of warehouse-worker theft, from a bottle of tequila to $15,000 worth of smart watches.

The documents offer an unprecedented look inside the internal security and surveillance apparatus of a company that has vigorously attempted to tamp down employee dissent and has previously been caught smearing employees who attempted to organize their colleagues. Amazon’s approach of dealing with its own workforce, labor unions, and social and environmental movements as a threat has grave implications for its workers’ privacy and ability to join labor unions and collectively bargain—and not only in Europe. It should also be concerning to both customers and workers in the United States and Canada, and around the world as the company expands into Turkey, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, and India.

Amazon intelligence analysts appear to gather information on labor organizing and social movements to prevent any disruptions to order fulfillment operations. The new intelligence reports obtained by Motherboard reveal in detail how Amazon uses social media to track environmental activism and social movements in Europe—including Greenpeace and Fridays For Future, environmental activist Greta Thunberg’s global climate strike movement—and perceives such groups as a threat to its operations. In 2019, Amazon monitored the Yellow Vests movement, also known as the gilet jaunes, a grassroots uprising for economic justice that spread across France—and solidarity movements in Vienna and protests against state repression in Iran.


“Like any other responsible business, we maintain a level of security within our operations to help keep our employees, buildings, and inventory safe,” Lisa Levandowski, a spokesperson for Amazon told Motherboard. “That includes having an internal investigations team who work with law enforcement agencies as appropriate, and everything we do is in line with local laws and conducted with the full knowledge and support of local authorities. Any attempt to sensationalize these activities or suggest we’re doing something unusual or wrong is irresponsible and incorrect.”

Levandowski denied that Amazon hired on-the-ground operatives, and said that any claim that Amazon performs the described activities across its operations worldwide was “N/A.”

In a report from November 2019, however, an analyst wrote that Amazon hired Pinkerton spies who were “inserted” into a warehouse in Wroclaw, Poland, to investigate an allegation that management coached job candidates on how to complete job interviews and possibly even conducted the process for them.


The report refers to the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States supplied detectives to infiltrate unions and hired violent goon squads to intimidate workers from engaging in union activity in steel mills. Today, Pinkerton is a subsidiary of the Swedish security company Securitas AB, and has supplied operatives to monitor strikes in West Virginia as recently as 2018.


“It’s not enough for Amazon to abuse its dominant market power and face antitrust charges by the EU; now they are exporting 19th century American union-busting tactics to Europe,” Christy Hoffman, general secretary of UNI Global Union, a global federation of trade unions that represents more than 20 million workers, told Motherboard. “This is a company that is ignoring the law, spying on workers, and using every page of the U.S. union-busting playbook to silence workers’ voices.”


Since Amazon posted job listings for two intelligence agents who could track “labor organizing threats,” journalists have obtained more documents that reveal some of the sophisticated technology and strategies the company has used to surveil its workforce and gain intelligence on worker organizing. In September, Motherboard obtained evidence that Amazon had been using a social media monitoring tool to spy on dozens of private Facebook groups for Amazon Flex drivers in the United States and Europe. Last month, a report in Recode revealed that Amazon has made significant investments in a new geospatial tool that tracks threats to the company. Out of 40 or so data points Amazon that tracks at least half are labor or employee-related, including “Whole Foods Market Activism/Unionization Efforts,” “union grant money flow patterns,” “and “Presence of Local Union Chapters and Alt Labor Groups.”

You know, it would be a good idea to put someone’s head on a pike at the beginning of the Biden administration, and Jeff Bezos would be a particularly good guy to make an example of.

If the Feds could take down Capone, they can take down Bezos.

Least Surprising News of the Day

Is anyone surprised that Amazon has been systematically deceiving its workers about safety

If you are surprised, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

This is a company that prides itself on abusing its workers at all levels, and their lies, both to regulators and their employees, are a core part of company culture:

On Cyber Monday 2014, Amazon operations chief Dave Clark proudly unveiled the company’s new warehouse of the future in Tracy, California. Behind him, tall yellow racks packed with vitamins, toy rockets and paintball gear zipped across the floor, lugged by the powerful, squat orange robots that would help catapult the company toward world domination. In a checked shirt and with neatly parted hair, Clark looked more the part of a high school teacher than a corporate executive, as he cheerfully called himself “head elf of Santa’s workshop around the world.”


The following July, Amazon rolled out another innovation: Prime Day. The holiday-shopping season was already an intense pressure cooker of warehouse activity known as “peak” inside Amazon. Now the company had just manufactured a second peak in the middle of the year: a brand-new holiday that would become pivotal to the company’s growth.


In fact, as senators have fired off letters to the company and workers have led walkouts over health and safety, Amazon has engaged in an unapologetic public relations campaign. Robots, Amazon insists, are good for workers. “They make the job safer,” Jeff Wilke, one of two CEOs under Bezos, told PBS FRONTLINE last September. And Prime Day and the holiday rush are so well orchestrated, Amazon has claimed, that injury rates stay flat or even go down during these buying frenzies. Thanks to “diligent record-keeping,” Amazon told Business Insider, “we know for a fact that recordable incidents do not increase during peak.”

But a new cache of company records obtained by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting – including internal safety reports and weekly injury numbers from its nationwide network of fulfillment centers – shows that company officials have profoundly misled the public and lawmakers about its record on worker safety. They reveal a mounting injury crisis at Amazon warehouses, one that is especially acute at robotic facilities and during Prime week and the holiday peak – and one that Amazon has gone to great lengths to conceal. With weekly data from 2016 through 2019 from more than 150 Amazon warehouses, the records definitively expose the brutal cost to workers of Amazon’s vast shipping empire – and the bald misrepresentations the company has deployed to hide its growing safety crisis.


Amazon often points to the tens of millions of dollars it has invested to enhance safety practices. Yet Amazon’s injury rates have gone up each of the past four years, the internal data shows. In 2019, Amazon fulfillment centers recorded 14,000 serious injuries – those requiring days off or job restrictions. The overall rate of 7.7 serious injuries per 100 employees was 33% higher than in 2016 and nearly double the most recent industry standard.


And for years, the internal data show, injury rates have spiked during the weeks of Prime Day and Cyber Monday, contrary to Amazon’s public claims. Those two weeks had the highest rate of serious injuries for all of 2019.

Monthly bulletins from Amazon’s environment, health and safety team show that the famously data-obsessed company is well aware of its safety problems. Each month, company officials sent out detailed updates – marked “Privileged & Confidential” – to warehouse safety managers across the country with data, charts and FAQs. They set safety goals and monitor progress closely. But the internal documents show that the company has failed to hit these targets. In 2018, Amazon aimed to lower its injury rate by 20%. Instead, injury rates went up. The next year, the goal was more modest: a 5% decrease. But the rate rose again.


Yet her email didn’t say how the company justifies its claim that these initiatives are working, while injury rates have continued, year after year, to rise.

Notwithstanding is protestations, Amazon does not care about its workers.

Even now that they are effectively a monopoly, they continue to build an empire on the blood of their employees.

They just don’t care.

Not Enough Bullets

Jeff Bezos is soliciting donations for employees of Amazon subcontractors who have been thrown out of work.

First, let us be clear:  In reality, these are Amazon employees.  Amazon dictates their hours, their delivery routes, and even the uniforms they wear.

Second, Jeff Bezos is worth about $120 billion, and he wants SOMEONE ELSE to pay for the people whose his corporate decisions have f%$#ed like a drunk sorority girl.

Mr. Bezos, this is not a good look, particularly as you continue to seek subsidies to operate in various communities:

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos faces backlash after publicising a relief fund the public can donate to for his contract employees working during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Amazon Relief Fund was created with $25m from the e-commerce company to assist its “employees and partners”, specifically those who are responsible for the necessary task of delivering all the products consumers order across the US.

It’s focused on “supporting our US-based Delivery Associates employed by Delivery Service Providers, our Amazon Flex Delivery Partners, and Associates working for Integrity Staffing, Adecco Staffing, and RES Staffing, and drivers and support team members of line haul partners under financial distress due to a Covid-19 diagnosis or quarantine.”

Besides the company contributing $25m to the fund, it also allows the public to donate if they deem it important. “While we aren’t expecting anyone to do so, you can make a voluntary donation to the fund if you desire to do so,” Amazon wrote on its fund’s website.

Amazon tweaked the wording to the above after initially encouraging people to donate via text, according to Popular Information.

But asking for public donations has still caught some backlash online.


Amazon is worth $1tn, and Mr Bezos is worth an estimated $114bn. In 2018, the company reported an income of $11bn but paid $0 into federal taxes.

As the pandemic continues and more consumers turn to the e-commerce site to stock up on necessary essentials, the company is anticipated to post an even larger income this year. But it is still asking for consumers to contribute to its fund if they would like.

I would note that this is the SECOND time that something like this has happened.  They did the same thing with newly acquired Whole Foods, where less than 2 weeks ago, in response to Covid-19 absences and self isolation, Amazon asked workers to donate sick days to a common fund.

Jeff Bezos is an evil jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

How Convenient

As I’ve noted before, this is all about Amazon expanding its monopoly(ies):

The online retailer on Tuesday notified its third-party merchants that they could once again use FedEx’s Ground network to ship orders placed under Amazon’s Prime membership program, nearly a month after imposing a ban on the service because of performance issues.

The move ends a standoff between Amazon and onetime shipping partner FedEx, whose Ground network was blocked for the final rush before Christmas and several weeks thereafter.

An Amazon spokesman said FedEx Ground has been reinstated for Prime shipments fulfilled by third-party sellers now that the services are consistently meeting the retailer’s on-time delivery requirements.

This was not a performance issue.

Thank You Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

It has now been revealed that New York State offered even more taxpayer money to Amazon than was previously revealed:

State officials offered Amazon.com Inc. almost a billion dollars more of incentives than was previously known to win its second-headquarters contest and were even prepared to pay part of some employees’ salaries if the tech company developed a campus in New York.

Documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show the scope of what state and local officials initially put on the table as part of the 2017 HQ2 competition, in which more than 200 cities submitted bids to host a facility that Amazon said would house 50,000 jobs.

The company said in November 2018 that sites in Northern Virginia and the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens would split the new headquarters. New York state and city officials agreed to give $3 billion of incentives to the e-commerce giant to hire as many as 40,000 employees.

Facing opposition from some local elected officials, Amazon abandoned its plans for New York on Valentine’s Day last year.

The Journal obtained the records through a Freedom of Information Law request to Empire State Development, the state’s economic development authority.

The documents show that in its first formal bid to Amazon, in October 2017, the state offered to provide up to $2.5 billion of incentives to the company for a campus in New York. The offer also applied to sites that state and local leaders proposed in the Hudson Valley, Albany, Central New York, Buffalo, Rochester and on Long Island.

The state’s initial offer included $1.4 billion of tax credits based on the number of employees hired and $1.1 billion of various grants. That was $800 million more than the ESD agreed to in a memorandum of understanding signed a year later: The state provided $1.2 billion of tax credits and $505 million to reimburse some construction costs.


On top of the state’s final $1.7 billion package, New York City ultimately offered Amazon up to $1.3 billion of extra incentives through two programs open to any company.


ESD initially proposed to spend $500 million to create a Center for Commercial Innovation near the selected site that would let Amazon partner with various colleges for research relevant to its business. The site would also subsidize job-training programs, according to the proposal, and the state pledged to pay 25% of certain graduates’ first-year wages with Amazon to help it achieve workforce diversity.


State Sen. Mike Gianaris, a Democrat from Queens and one of the leading opponents of the Long Island City campus, said news of the initial offer underscored his call to re-examine state incentive programs.

“The more we learn about this twisted process, the worse it appears,” Mr. Gianaris said. “I think it’s good we didn’t have to provide any incentives to get Amazon here, because they appear to be coming anyway.”

Taxpayer incentives are a scam.  They never pay for themselves, and when the additional taxes to pay for them on other, smaller, employees are factored in, they don’t generate any jobs either.

Unfortunately, without federal legislation to prevent this, companies like Amazon will continue to play states and localities against each other, and everyone will lose but robber barons like Jeff Bezos.

Paging John Sherman. Please Come to the White Courtesy Phone.

Tell me that this is not monopoly power being abused:

Amazon.com Inc. is blocking its third-party sellers from using FedEx Corp.’s ground delivery network for Prime shipments, citing a decline in performance heading into the final stretch of the holiday shopping season.

The ban on using FedEx’s Ground and Home services starts this week and will last “until the delivery performance of these ship methods improves,” according to an email Amazon sent Sunday to merchants that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Amazon has stopped using FedEx for its own deliveries in the U.S., but third-party merchants had still been able to use FedEx. Such sellers now account for more than half of the merchandise sold on Amazon’s website, including many items listed as eligible for Prime.

FedEx said the decision impacts a small number of shippers but “limits the options for those small businesses on some of the highest shipping days in history.” The carrier said it still expects to handle a record number of packages this holiday season. “The overall impact to our business is minuscule,” a FedEx spokeswoman said.

An Amazon spokesman said the policy change is to ensure customers receive their packages on time and the e-commerce company is managing delivery cutoffs so that orders arrive by Christmas. He said the ban is temporary and will be lifted once FedEx service levels improve.

In its email to merchants, Amazon said sellers can use FedEx’s speedier and more expensive Express service for Prime orders or FedEx Ground for non-Prime shipments.


Earlier this year, Amazon and FedEx ended two major shipping contracts, totaling some $900 million in revenue for FedEx. The overnight-delivery pioneer is shifting its focus to retailers such as Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. that compete with Amazon.

If you believe that this was not an anti-competitive effort coming from Amazon, I have a helipad in Brooklyn that I want to sell you.

Don’t Shop Amazon

A deep dive reveals that Amazon’s on-site clinics actively harm their employees as a matter of policy in order to depress their reportable injury numbers:

Earlier this year, a falling object struck a worker’s head at an Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The worker visited Amcare, the company’s on-site medical unit, and told the emergency medical technicians on staff there that they had a headache and blurred vision — classic symptoms of a concussion. According to company protocol, Amazon’s medical staff should have sent the worker to a hospital or doctor’s office for further evaluation, or at least called a physician for advice. They did neither.


In various instances, OSHA investigators found that Amcare medical staff decided to treat the employees in-house, rather than referring them to doctors or hospitals — decisions that potentially violated New Jersey state law and federal regulations, such as OSHA’s “general duty” clause requiring employers to maintain workplaces free of hazards that put workers in danger.

This wasn’t the first time OSHA had investigated Amcare, nor was it the first time the agency alerted Amazon to problems at the clinics. “The current OSHA inspection again revealed instances indicating that the EMTs and Athletic Trainers (ATs) at AMCARE are working outside their scope of practice, without proper supervision,” regulators wrote in a warning letter to Amazon, reported here for the first time. “New Jersey state laws do not allow EMTs and ATs to practice medicine independently; a physician must supervise their work.”

An investigation by The Intercept and Type Investigations — drawing on previously unreported documents, an interview with a former OSHA medical expert, and interviews with 15 current and former Amcare employees — found multiple instances in which clinic staffers violated Amazon’s own rules as well as government regulations. The investigation found that Amcare employees nationwide were pressured to sweep injuries and medical issues under the rug at the expense of employee health.


The strenuous nature of the work at Amazon’s warehouses can take its toll on the human body: As Reveal and The Atlantic reported last week, the rates of serious injury at 23 fulfillment centers from which data could be obtained were more than double the industry average in 2018. The company’s Amcare clinics are intended to address the many minor aches and pains workers experience on the job. The company claims that this care falls under the category of “first aid,” which, according to an OSHA letter to Amazon, is defined as “emergency care provided for injury or sudden illness before emergency medical treatment is available.” These clinics operate in most, if not all, of the company’s warehouses, and they are staffed by EMTs and supervised by safety managers. According to a former OSHA medical officer and multiple former Amazon employees interviewed for this story, safety managers are not required to have extensive medical training. (Amazon declined to answer specific questions about its safety managers’ training as well as other details reported in this story.)


Since 2015, Amazon workers have filed at least 10 complaints about problems at Amcare — all of which OSHA deemed “valid” — according to previously unreported documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. These 10 complaints represent a small fraction of the hundreds of general health and safety complaints filed by Amazon workers in the last seven years. The complaints alleged that employees were being sent back to work with no medical care after requesting treatment, that injured employees were being told they must wait two weeks to see if their conditions worsened before being seen by doctors, and that Amcare staffers were not adequately trained. One complaint, made by phone in December 2017 from Tracy, California, alleged that Amcare simply refused to treat an injury. Though the complaints were determined to be valid, the agency did not follow up with an inspection in every case; OSHA is a small agency that employs about one inspector for every 59,000 U.S. workers.

Still, in response to these complaints and others, OSHA has investigated Amcare clinics at least three times: beginning from summer 2015 at an Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey; from fall 2017 to spring 2018 at a fulfillment center in Florence, New Jersey; and again at the Robbinsville warehouse in an investigation that concluded in September 2019. Each time, the federal agency found that EMTs were providing care beyond first aid. Twice, OSHA recommended that they be supervised by on-site physicians. Twice, in Florence and during the first Robbinsville investigation, the agency also found evidence that Amazon was underreporting injuries on federally mandated logs. The results of the Florence investigation and the 2019 Robbinsville investigation are being reported here for the first time.

Accounts from Amcare employees across the country reveal that problems identified by OSHA are likely not confined to the warehouses it inspected. In interviews with The Intercept and Type Investigations, 15 current and former on-site medical representatives — Amazon’s term for the EMTs who staff Amcare — from fulfillment centers in 11 states bolster OSHA’s findings. Ten of the medical technicians said their bosses pressured them to send injured employees back to the warehouse floor when they likely needed additional medical attention. Eight felt like there was a conflict of interest between their manager’s priorities and their duties as medical professionals. Four said they were pressured to underreport or misclassify injuries. Some Amcare staff members described a positive experience with Amazon; even so, they expressed concerns about tensions between the company’s bottom line and injured employees’ best interests.

Were it not for salutary neglect of safety and health regulations, Amazon would not be able to function.

Their business is literally built on the broken bodies of their “associates.”

What a Surprise

Won’t you look at that: Amazon is coming to NYC anyway – *without* requiring the public to finance shady deals, helipad handouts for Jeff Bezos, & corporate giveaways.

Maybe the Trump admin should focus more on cutting public assistance to billionaires instead of poor families. https://t.co/BbqhXbB9MM

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 6, 2019

Well, what do you know, after Amazon’s subsidies were threatened, and the company took its marbles and went home, Amazon just brought its marbles back:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested the Trump administration “focus more on cutting public assistance to billionaires instead of poor families” after news broke Friday that Amazon was expanding its presence in New York City without the state giving the company billions in tax incentives.

The decision by the online giant to lease 335,000 square feet of office space in Manhattan and employee 1,500 employees in the consumer and advertising departments was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The announcement came roughly 10 months after Amazon announced it was ditching its widely condemned plan to locate a second headquarters site in Long Island City, Queens—a plan for which New York state would have given the online giant nearly $3 billion in tax incentives.

Ocasio-Cortez was among that plan’s most vocal critics, asking at the time, “Why should corporations that contribute nothing to the pot be in a position to take billions from the public?”

In a Twitter thread Saturday morning, the New York Democrat said that Amazon would now be “bringing work without the welfare.” Ocasio-Cortez also countered the Republican talking point that the city was losing out on thousands of jobs.

What a surprise.  Subsidies don’t make a difference.

And Amazon dot com is the biggest welfare cheat in the nation

Speaking of Horrible Companies You Should Never Do Business With………

That perennial fan favorite Amazon is lighting up the statistics for workplace injuries, a data point that surprise no one:

Amazon is facing renewed scrutiny over working conditions at its warehouses following two new reports published Monday.

In one report, Gizmodo analyzed injury reports that Amazon had submitted as required by law to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a federal workplace-safety agency. According to Gizmodo, by Amazon’s own count, injury rates at its facility in the New York City borough of Staten Island were more than three times the industry average.

Gizmodo also found that the injuries were often apparently severe, with Amazon workers missing an average of 64 days an injury.


In a separate investigation published by Reveal and The Atlantic, injury reports obtained from 23 of Amazon’s 110 warehouses in the US showed that the rates of serious injuries at those locations were more than twice the industry average.


The Reveal investigation also included several workers’ accounts of their experience at the company, including an incident during a gas leak at a warehouse in California, in which workers accused Amazon management of refusing to stop operations — even after a 911 dispatcher instructed workers to evacuate the building — telling workers to use personal time if they wanted to leave.

Amazon is claiming that this is because they are the only company out there accurately reporting workplace incidence.

The technical term for this is bullsh%$.

Again, I will note that if they treat their employees like crap, they will do the same to their customers.

Walmart Really Sucks

Walmart, reversing policy, has stopped offering holiday pay for workers over Thanksgiving, instead offering a discount on employee purchases, for 2 days.

How wonderfully generous of them:

Thanksgiving and Black Friday mark the beginning of the festive season in the US, but Walmart workers are not feeling the cheer. The world’s largest retailer will not be offering staff extra pay for working some of the busiest days of the year. Instead they will be offered a discount to shop at their own store.


Several large retailers including Barnes & Noble, Costco and Trader Joe’s have decided to close on Thanksgiving in recent years, arguing staff should have time with their family on the national holiday. But Walmart is one of several big-box retailers who are open on Thanksgiving Day and will start its Black Friday sale at 6pm.

Walmart is also one of the few big companies that does not offer employees increased hourly wages for working shifts on a holiday. At Target and Amazon, workers are paid time and a half for each hour worked.

“Walmart doesn’t offer holiday pay. They have a discount you have to work certain days to receive and one discount only lasts two days,” said a Walmart worker in Idaho who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. They are re scheduled to work full-time shifts on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday this year.

“No one is getting paid extra. You can’t get overtime unless it’s approved.”


A Walmart spokesperson said: “We simplified our paid time-off policies in 2016 to combine vacation, holiday, sick and personal time into one bucket. We did this to give our associates greater flexibility and more choice to use their time off when and how they want to. As part of this change, we no longer pay holiday pay. Associates can now cash out any unused PTO at the end of the year.”

This is a contemptible company, and it treats its employees like crap.

Do you really think that they won’t nickel and dime customers in the same way.

Ireland’s Economy is Based on Tax Evasion

This probably applies to even a greater degree to Luxembourg.

This is why they, and 10 other nations, torpedoed a proposal to add transparency in transnational tax avoidance:

Twelve EU countries, including Ireland, have blocked a proposed new rule that would have forced multinational companies to reveal how much profit they make and how little tax they pay in each of the 28 member states.

The proposed directive was designed to shine a light on how some of the world’s biggest companies – such as Apple, Facebook and Google – avoid paying an estimated $500bn a year in taxes by shifting their profits from higher-tax countries such as the UK, France and Germany to zero-tax or low-tax jurisdictions including Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta.

Ireland is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the current rules. The country hosts corporate offices that collect revenue and profits generated by many multinational companies across the EU bloc. Ireland allows global technology companies to pay corporation tax at rate as low as 6.25%, compared with 19% in the UK.

Ireland’s decision to vote against the proposed directive – which would have forced companies to report their revenues and profits on a country-by-country basis – came as the Irish tax-and-spending watchdog warned that the country’s economy could collapse if there was a global clampdown on tax avoidance.

The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (IFAC) warned on Thursday that the country’s economy has become so reliant on taxes paid by multinationals that half of all of corporate taxes paid in the nation come from just 10 global companies. The firms are not named, but they are believed to include US technology giants Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Dell, Google and Oracle.

Other countries that have set themselves up as low-tax environments helping to shelter the profits of the world’s biggest companies were also among those that voted against. They include Luxembourg, Malta, Cyprus, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Croatia.


The vote came more than three years after the European commission promised to expose multinational corporations’ tax avoidance measures following the Panama Papers revelations. The proposal would have made country-by-country reporting mandatory for companies with an annual turnover of more than €750m.

Elena Gaita, a senior policy officer at anti-corruption charity Transparency International, said: “It’s an outrage that member states have once again put the interests of big business above those of citizens.


The IFAC said corporation tax receipts had risen to account for one in every five euros of tax collected by the Irish government. It warned that between €2bn-€6bn (£1.7bn-£5bn) of the €10bn total corporate tax take is what it calls “excess”. “In other words, beyond what would be expected based on the economy’s underlying performance and historical and international norms.”

The budgetary watchdog said the Irish government had become increasing reliant on corporate tax receipts, which rose to a record €10.4bn last year, more than double the amount collected in 2014. “The reliance on these volatile receipts leaves the government vulnerable to changes to the global tax environment, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) base erosion and profit shifting initiative,” IFAC said.

The OECD is trying to force big-tech companies, such as Facebook, Amazon and Google, to pay more tax in countries where they actually sell their products and services.

Ireland’s corporate tax rate is 12.5% but it charges only 6.25% for profits linked to a company’s patent or intellectual property.

Ireland’s tax base is based on tax evasion and money laundering. So is much of its economy.

Celtic Tiger, my ass.

Capitalism at Its Finest

In an effort to improve their (in retrospect non-existent) chance to land Amazon’s HQ2, Indiana regulators downplayed the online retailer’s responsibility for the death of one of their employees:

When an Amazon worker was killed by a forklift in a Plainfield warehouse in 2017, the state of Indiana’s investigator found the company was at fault. The state cited Amazon for four major safety violations and fined it $28,000.

But an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found that, as Gov. Eric Holcomb sought to lure Amazon’s HQ2 to Indiana, state labor officials quietly absolved Amazon of responsibility. After Amazon appealed, they deleted every fine that had been levied and accepted the company’s argument — that the Amazon worker was to blame.

The investigator on the case, John Stallone, had arrived at the warehouse a day after 59-year-old Phillip Lee Terry was crushed to death. He was so troubled by the pushback he was getting from higher-ups that he secretly recorded his boss, Indiana OSHA Director Julie Alexander, as she counseled the company on how to lessen the fine.

“It’s like being at a card table and having a dealer teach you how to count cards,” Stallone said.


It began in September 2017, when Amazon announced a search for a second headquarters, saying it would invest more than $5 billion and bring as many as 50,000 jobs to whichever city won the sweepstakes.


Indiana OSHA issued four serious safety citations, for a total fine of $28,000. Stallone sought more, but he was getting pushback. On Nov. 20, 2017, Stallone joined his boss, Julie Alexander, the Indiana OSHA director, as she called Amazon officials. He secretly recorded the conversation, which is legal in Indiana, and shared the recording with Reveal.

During the call, Alexander told the Amazon officials what she’d need from them in order to shift the blame from the company to “employee misconduct,” according to the recording.

And she walked them through how to negotiate down the fines. “We sometimes like to consider grouping citations to lower the penalty amounts,” she said.

She suggested Amazon could partner with her agency as a “leader in safety” to kick off a program promoting best practices in the logistics industry.

After hanging up with Amazon, Alexander said: “They’re wanting to probably take this offer and go back and look and say, ‘Hey, we’re partnering with Indiana. We’re going to be the leader.’ ”

She told Stallone, “I hope you don’t take it personally if we have to manipulate your citations.”


Some days after the conference call with Amazon officials, Stallone said Indiana Labor Commissioner Rick Ruble pulled him into his office. The governor was there, too, standing by the commissioner’s desk, according to Stallone.

He recalled that Holcomb told him how much it would mean to Indiana if the state won the Amazon headquarters deal. Then, Stallone said, the commissioner told him to back off on the Amazon case — or resign.


The same day Stallone sent his whistleblower email, Amazon’s corporate offices in Seattle gave a $1,000 campaign contribution to Indiana’s governor. It was years before Holcomb would next face reelection, and Amazon hasn’t donated to him before or since.

A year after Terry’s death, Indiana officials quietly signed an agreement with Amazon to delete all the safety citations and fines. The agreement said Amazon had met the requirements of an “unpreventable employee misconduct defense.” The official record now essentially blames Terry for his own death.

Note that that Amazon did not have to ask anyone to do anything for them.
This is just the nature of “business friendly” politicians and their administrations.
It doesn’t matter if the politician is a Republican or Democrat, though Holcomb is a Republican, these folks will literally sacrifice the blood of their citizens on the alter of profit.

It Now Looks Like Jeff Bezos Set a Few Million Bucks on Fire for Nothing

After over of a million dollars of super PAC money, it now appears taht Jeff Bezos and his Evil Minions have not managed to flip a single seat in the Seattle city council:

Council Member Kshama Sawant has all but assured her victory over Egan Orion after a Friday night ballot drop put her 1,515 votes and 3.62 percentage points over her Amazon-approved challenger. With an estimated 1,157 votes left to count in District 3, Sawant has essentially guaranteed that she will be reelected to her third term on the council.

Friday night’s ballot drop also delivered some unfortunate news for the council race’s other socialist. Shaun Scott is still sitting 5 percentage points behind Amazon-backed Alex Pedersen in District 4. With Scott trailing by 1,579 votes his chances of a win have sadly ended. Although Scott’s final vote count is far better than what many observers expected and far better than the nearly 16 percentage points he was trailing on Tuesday’s election night.


Andrew Lewis expanded his lead over Jim Pugel in District 7. Lewis is now over 2,000 votes ahead of Pugel, a dramatic swing from the 200-vote deficit Lewis started with on Tuesday night.

Friday night’s vote tally essentially guarantees terrible results for Amazon and the Chamber of Commerce’s record-breaking election spending spree. If the results Friday night hold—and there’s little reason to think the outcomes will change—the chamber supported only two winning candidates: Pedersen and Debora Juarez in District 7. Both of those candidates were already favorites before the chamber started spending millions in this election.


Only 5 percent of King County’s votes still need to be counted after Friday’s two ballot drops, according to a spokesperson for King County Elections.

Just in case you are wondering, the reason for the delays in counting is Washington State’s vote by mail system, where late arriving votes tend to be more progressive:

Raise your hand if you are confused by the way the vote totals have been counted in the days post-election. Okay, great. And is this your first time paying attention to a local election? Noted. Now, do you know how mail-in elections work?

Mail-in elections have been the standard in Washington state since 2009. This means the gradual process for counting ballots has been around for 10 years, so people should really know what’s going on. “It’s always been this way,” Kendall Hodson, chief of staff for King County Elections, told The Stranger, “People do tend to forget every year.”


To put things in perspective, mail-in elections are tough because 60,000 ballots came in the mail the day after election day. They were all good and kosher, post-marked on election day as they should be. Snail mail is just, snail mail. Add to that the 215,000 they collected from drop boxes that were delivered on election night that weren’t counted until the days after and it starts to seem less of a conspiracy theory and more of an “oh, that’s just the process.”

I know that there is going to be some sort of pablum about needing to work together coming from the Seattle Times and its ilk, but this should be ignored.

Amazon, Chamber of Commerce, the real estate industry, etc. went nuclear, and made a shambles of Seattle’s public election financing system, and they will keep coming back again, and again, and again until they realize that they have made implacable enemies on the council.

To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”

With progressives having a 5:2 majority on the City Council, they need focus on reducing the political power of the “rich pigs” in Seattle.

I Want This Phone Charger

An artist and programmer has come up with a charger that generates a flood of false information to thwart the attempts of the various internet giants to track you:

Martin Nadal, an artist and coder based in Linz, Austria, has created FANGo, a “defense weapon against surveillance capitalism” that is disguised as a mobile phone charger.

On his page introducing the device, Nadal explains that the inside of the charger hides a micro controller that takes control of an Android smartphone by accessing the operating system’s Debug Mode. The device then makes queries and interacts with pages on Google, Amazon, YouTube, and other sites “in order to deceive data brokers in their data capture process.” It works similar to a fake Apple lightning cable, now mass-produced, that hijacks your device once connected.

Tools to frustrate tracking attempts by advertisers or data brokers are not new—AdNauseam is a plugin that clicks on all ads, while TrackmeNot does random searches on different search engines. Such projects, however, exclusively focus on desktops and web browsers. “Today we interact with the internet from the mobile mostly,” Nadal told Motherboard in an email. “We also use applications, where there is no possibility of using these plugins that hinder the monitoring making the user helpless.”

The device’s name is an acronym for Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google, who represent some of the most profitable companies in the world. Nadal, however, sees them as the engines of surveillance capitalism, a theorization of contemporary capitalism by Susanna Zuboff, a Harvard Business School professor emeritus.


Nadal is working on adding new features that might take such poisoning even further, using techniques such as geolocation spoofing. “[W]hile my phone is quietly charging at home, the data brokers think that I am walking or dining in another part of the city or world,” he said.

I love it.

Amazon Abided

Is anyone surprised that now that Amazon has bought Whole Foods, it is cutting out medical benefits for a large portion of its workers?

I’m not.

Jeff Bezos fetishizes cruelty toward his employees:

Whole Foods is cutting medical benefits for hundreds of part-time workers, the company confirmed to Business Insider on Thursday.

The changes will take effect on January 1 and affect just under 2% of Whole Foods’ total workforce, a Whole Foods spokesperson told Business Insider.

Whole Foods has about 95,000 employees, so it means about 1,900 people will lose benefits.

The benefits that the company is cutting are offered to part-time employees who work at least 20 hours a week. The changes will not affect full-time employees.

Whole Foods said it was making the change “to better meet the needs of our business and create a more equitable and efficient scheduling model.”

When I hear, “Create a more equitable and efficient scheduling model,” I think irregular schedules and more precarious work situations.

In Bezos world, happy employees are a sign of failure.

Making a List and Checking it Twice

I am not referring to Santa Claus, I am referring to Jeff Bezos and Amazon who have created an enemies list.

How charming:

When Amazon scrubbed plans to build a second headquarters in New York City earlier this year, the reason appeared rooted in a debate about unions, tax subsidies and housing costs.

Then there was the burn book.

In a private dossier kept at the time, whose existence has gone previously unreported, Amazon executives cataloged in minute detail the insults they saw coming from New York politicians and labor leaders, according to a copy viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

By late January, Amazon executives had been pummeled at two public hearings. The burn book, which was kept in a Microsoft Word document called “NY Negative Statements,” had separate sections for a half-dozen politicians and officials who had gone from thorns in the company’s side to formidable opponents of a deal that now looked to be in jeopardy.

The document recorded how opponents mocked the helipad Amazon planned to build, pushed the Twitter hashtag #scamazon, and brought up the company’s work for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a sore spot among some Amazon employees. It was an eight-page, bullet-pointed, Calibri font testimony to Amazon’s sensitivities.


After this article was published online, an Amazon spokeswoman said the document was compiled as preparation for city council hearings.

No, it wasn’t a prep for council meeting, it was the airing of grievances by and for a billionaire and a company that believe that they should be lauded as visionary prophets, and not the abusive and extortative sh%$-heels that they actually are.

How Can they Both Lose?

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, a front for Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, has offered to help the Federal Trade Commission go after Amazon and Google.

I love it when evil goes up against evil, because it’s a win-win for the rest of us:

A leading U.S. retail group, whose members include Walmart, Target, Best Buy and others, has penned a letter to the Federal Trade Commission that details its concerns over big tech companies’ dominance. The letter specifically calls out Amazon and Google for their control over the majority of internet product searches, how price and product information reaches consumers and other concerns.

The letter, written by The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), urges the FTC to take a closer look at the big tech platforms. The group also offers to help in any antitrust investigations.

“It should…be quite concerning to the Commission that Amazon and Google control the majority of all Internet product search, and can very easily affect whether and how price and product information actually reaches consumers,” write the RILA. “Moreover, these firms are extraordinarily adept at determining how small changes in the way in which information is conveyed affect consumer behavior — given that nearly everything they do is driven by big-data science and machine learning models,” the letter continues.


The group asks the FTC to consider rules and enforcement actions that require companies to disclose where products come from, whether they’re new or used, whether their sale is authorized and how the price from one seller compares to others. Amazon is mentioned here as an example of the problems that can arise when a firm controls an “essential platform” like Amazon Marketplace and also competes on that same platform.

Additionally, the letter asks the FTC to look beyond the consumer benefit of lowered prices or free services — sometimes by subsidizing the platform with other profit streams.

Here is hoping that they manage to reduce each other to a bloody pulp.