Amazon and Union-Busting

And yet in the ultra strong union Washington workers only are required to get overtime for more than 40 hrs in a 7 day week. Seems obvious that there is something more than unions that are responsible for overtime regulations. Colorado which is a weak union state (9%) has better overtime laws than Washington with an additional overtime hurdle at 12 hours per day. The worst union participation state, south Carolina, has the same overtime laws as Washington.

Well of course. Literally nobody has said that unions do everything. They are very influential, but they don’t dictate things. And overtime laws are a small portion of the labor picture. For example, Washington is one of only 15 states with mandatory sick leave for all employers. Washington has the highest minimum wage of any state. DC is much higher but it’s not a state, and California has a slightly higher minimum wage but only among large employers, it has a lower minimum wage for every other employer. There are many things you can compare state-by-state, but for the most part Washington has done well for workers comparatively speaking.

By the way, I literally work for the agency that enforces overtime rules. It’s also the agency that handles OSHA duties (Washington isn’t an OSHA state, it handles things itself, with stricter rules than OSHA). If you’re curious. I don’t actually do any of that enforcement myself, but I support the people that do in my IT role.

…I think everyone in this thread would love to have a radical restructure of society that introduces universal healthcare and address inequality in society.

But get this done first. Don’t ban unions then hope to pass progressive legislation. Don’t fight unionization at Amazon when you aren’t lifting a finger to help those that are working in Amazon warehouses that clearly need help now. Somebody needs to be fighting on behalf of the Amazon worker while you rally around getting Universal Basic Income passed in a Senate and a House that overwhelmingly would oppose such a concept. UBI is something you have to sell to the American people first and that could take decades, if at all.

I’m not even a big fan of many unions. But the current state of everything right now is simply unacceptable and your handful of personal anecdotes don’t change any of that. You can fight the good fight for progressive policy and the Unions can stand up for Amazon workers at the very same time. Once again this isn’t a binary situation. An imaginary future scenario isn’t going to help Amazon workers now. This is exactly what BigT was talking about: you’ve just proven their point.

Companies are probably less likely to offer the option of compressed workweeks with this law. That would hurt people who’d rather work longer shifts to get more days off.

True. I work 4 days a week, 10 hours a day. It’s awesome having a day off in the middle of the week, and I feel less rushed on my work days. If something like that was passed in my state I’d have to go to a 5 day 8 hour schedule which doesn’t work well with my job. Back when I did work 8 hour days it was much harder to have enough time for everything each day.

People are free to form or join a union and write a collective bargaing agreement (CBA) that dictates 4 ten-hour days as a workweek if they want to, then.

My point was that a rule that at first seems to favor workers may have unintended consequences.

Even with a collective bargaining agreement, the employer would still be on the hook for 8 hours of O/T per week per worker that they didn’t have to pay before. What happens if the business can’t afford that? I know this thread is about Amazon, and they have more money than all of the gods of all the world’s religions, but rules impact businesses of smaller size. A law or an agreement doesn’t make the money appear in the budget.

I have no trouble believing that Amazon and even smaller businesses treat their employees like disposable trash, and need to be forced to do better. But then I’ve also worked with plenty of jobsworths who used union-like tactics and ended up hurting their coworkers more than they hurt their employers. There are a lot of nuances that are convenient to ignore.

Overtime as we know it is the responsibility of FDR, who in 1938 signed the Fair Labor Standards Acts. It most certainly was NOT out of the goodness of employers’ hearts. The FLSA is also why we no longer have child labor in the US, another thing employers were more than happy to exploit given the chance (and still do, they just exploit it in overseas factories).

That’s because it’s a Federal regulation and applies nationwide.

Really, it would help your participation here if you were more family with the actual history and regulations affecting the labor workforce.


However, a company requiring 10 hour days, or megacycle shifts, is essentially saying “we only want young workers with no children or other dependents”. If they said that flat-out they’d be sued for discrimination. This is a work-around to not have to deal with pesky problems like low-level workers having young children (the ones who can’t afford nannies or other accommodating child care), women who get pregnant, and so forth.

I think having an option of working four days of ten hours each is a great idea. Making it mandatory, or allowing a company to making mandatory is not because of how many people it excludes.

I’m guessing they were trying to say there’s another explanation for the difference than unions, since WA didn’t go the route of CA and NV.


And I can’t think of any place more deserving of a union than Amazon. Look, I use Amazon. I’m not going to boycott their services just to make a point about unions. I will probably make it a point to go more local and do more in-person consumption once this pandemic is behind us, but Amazon has a place in society. Even so, I’m not blind to their occasional evil, and I fully support unionization of Amazon workers, as I think it will make union efforts stronger elsewhere.

I buy local and small when possible/practical.

With the exception of shopping at my employer’s stores, but then I have direct and personal knowledge of how that company treats its workers, being one of them, and while far from perfect they’re not a bad place to work in the context of our larger society.

It would help your participation if you read the thread and followed along. You provided no new information to me as to why overtime laws are not the result of being in a strong union state. Maybe you helped out the person I was responding to since obviously they had no idea.

No, they aren’t. One of my biggest gripes with the union-push if the constant anti-Amazon lies pushed by pro-union people.

As others have mentioned, the Offer is made every year sometime after the holiday season. But the big downside to “The Offer” is that once taken, you can’t work for Amazon or its affiliates ever again. If you get a job somewhere else and Amazon acquires the new company, you’ll be terminated because you took the offer. They make that very clear.

The stoplight thing is BS as well.

The article adds this clarification:

Clarification: Amazon periodically gives out “resignation bonuses” when trying to reduce their workforce following a peak season, but had never given out such bonuses in Alabama prior to the union election; leading many to view the bonuses as suspicious.

Amazon makes the Offer every year to eligible employees. If it hadn’t at this location, it would be because the FC is too new and no one was eligible. A quick google indicates it opened in april 2020, which means this is the first post peak season. And it says it was never offered in Alabama at all, which I flat out don’t believe.

We most certainly DO have child labor in the US. Most common industries are allowed to hire children as young as 14. Many companies require a minimum age of 16, because below that age, there are many more regulations and restrictions.

What we DON’T have (for the most part) is the Victorian sort of child labor, where 10-year-olds were forced to work 10 or 12 hour shifts in dirty, dangerous conditions.

I’m working in China right now. The country that brings to mind images of sweatshops. But I can honestly say, based on comments in this thread, that semi skilled workers at least seem to get much better working conditions than the US, let alone skilled workers.
I mean, someone was complaining upthread about workers getting two 15 minute breaks and a one hour lunch per day. That would be on the mean side for even a factory worker in China. I’m not kidding.

So I guess the US is “exceptional” once again.

Even this kind of obvious statement is more indicative of US culture than you might appreciate.
In many European countries (and I’ve worked in a couple), a core part of HR reasonabilities is ensuring workers are kept happy and healthy. Receiving nagging emails from HR about claiming your free sight tests, tax refunds, welfare entitlements etc is completely the norm.

Even, again, in China, but to a lesser degree.

That’s one of the core functions of HR here in the United States as well, it’s done for the benefit of the company, and I believe it’s the same in Europe. Making sure your employees are engaged is of benefit to the company in that it leads to lower turnover rates, higher performance, and helps attract talent. Aside from protecting the company from litigation, making sure the workplace is free from harassment, discriminatory behavior, and is safe helps foster an environment where employees are engaged and do their best work.

Of course HR doesn’t really drive any of that. That has to come from upper management who decides to commit to creating a good environment for their employees.

President Biden weights in:

I’m impressed. I wouldn’t have expected that from him. I’m happy to be proven wrong.

Here’s a key passage from his video: