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Win the Amazon union fight and we can usher in a new Progressive Era

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The most dramatic change in American capitalism over the last half-century has been the emergence of corporate behemoths like Amazon and the shrinkage of labor unions. The resulting imbalance has spawned near-record inequalities of income and wealth, corruption of democracy by big money and the abandonment of the working class.

All this is coming to a head in several ways.

Over the next eight days, Amazon faces a union vote at its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. If successful, it would be Amazon’s first US-based union in its nearly 27-year history.

Conditions in Amazon warehouses would please Kim Jong-un – strict production quotas, 10-hour workdays with only two half-hour breaks, unsafe procedures, arbitrary firings “and they track our every move”, Jennifer Bates, a worker at Bessemer, told the Senate budget committee on Wednesday.

To thwart the union drive, Amazon has required Bessemer workers to attend anti-union meetings, warned workers they’d have to pay union dues (wrong – Alabama is a “right-to-work” state that bars mandatory dues), and intimidated and harassed organizers.

Why is Amazon abusing its workers?

The company isn’t exactly hard-up. It’s the most profitable firm in America. Its executive chairman and largest shareholder, Jeff Bezos, is the richest man in the world, holding more wealth than the bottom 39% of Americans put together.

Amazon is abusing workers because it can.

Fifty years ago, General Motors was the largest........

© The Guardian

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