People in politics, especially in the American right, often love to speak in praise of “the free market” and how if corporate America were in charge of more, they would do a better job “self regulating” than the government. However, American history always testified to the opposite. The eugenic tendencies of American life manifest the strongest in the corporate world, where corporate America spends billions of dollars per year trying to undermine and avoid labor regulations meant for the protection of the common man against abuse. If the corporate world was able to, she would return to the ways of the 19th century, where she would force laborers to work to death and pay them little to nothing, only to pull their dead bodies off of the machines at work and put a new person to work while the body of the previous employee is still left on the floor.
Amazon is a particularly infamous example of this as by way of their notorious policies that have helped her to acquire great wealth at the human cost of her workers’ health. Recently, some workers have been organizing strikes to get better working conditions, and the leader of one strike was fired illegally. His case has been further bolstered by the fact that an internal memo has come out from Amazon showing an attempt to smear the organizer in public, indication malicious intentions by Amazon and furthering the case for unionization.
Leaked notes from an internal meeting of Amazon leadership obtained by VICE News reveal company executives discussed a plan to smear fired warehouse employee Christian Smalls, calling him “not smart or articulate” as part of a PR strategy to make him “the face of the entire union/organizing movement.”
“He’s not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position than simply explaining for the umpteenth time how we’re trying to protect workers,” wrote Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky in notes from the meeting forwarded widely in the company.
“We should spend the first part of our response strongly laying out the case for why the organizer’s conduct was immoral, unacceptable, and arguably illegal, in detail, and only then follow with our usual talking points about worker safety,” Zapolsky wrote. “Make him the most interesting part of the story, and if possible make him the face of the entire union/organizing movement.”
They discussed encouraging Amazon executives to use Smalls to discredit the wider labor movement at Amazon. Employees at the warehouse, known as JFK8, launched an effort to unionize in 2018.
In his notes, Zapolsky wrote that there was “general agreement” on this point among the other attendees of the meeting. (Zapolsky’s notes also mention SVP of worldwide operations and customer service Dave Clark and SVP of human resources Beth Galetti.)
In a statement to VICE News, Zapolsky said his “comments were personal and emotional.”
“I was frustrated and upset that an Amazon employee would endanger the health and safety of other Amazonians by repeatedly returning to the premises after having been warned to quarantine himself after exposure to virus Covid-19,” he said. “I let my emotions draft my words and get the better of me.” (source)
The current situation with the virus is stirring the already impoverished, frustrated, and desperate American working population towards a contemporary workers’ revolt. Amazon has been one of the most heavily criticized entities, and actions such as this not only are wrong, but they are furthering the legitimacy of the plight of the common working man, and will embolden him to oppose further attempts by corporations to mistreat workers.
No company lasts forever. Amazon may be large, but she is not invincible. Given her history of abusing her laborers, it may not be another business that causes her downfall, but a tiny virus and her response to it that emboldens those people who she relies on for her work to bring her to her knees.