Employees, members of Congress, and academics are beginning to agree that Jeff Bezos’ company is too rich and too powerful.
Amazon just hit a $1 trillion valuation, but some of its workers feel poorer than ever.
Jeff Bezos’s tech giant is the second U.S. company to be worth thirteen-digits on the stock market, following Apple, which hit $1 trillion in August. That’s all well and good for Bezos, whose net worth exceeds $150 billion. But workers at the growing network of Amazon-owned companies say they aren’t seeing the money and Senator Bernie Sanders rolled out a new bill that would penalize Amazon for leaving workers dependent on public assistance. The next day, The Wall Street Journal reported that employees at Whole Foods, a grocery chain recently acquired by Amazon, were seeking to unionize. This is on top of criticism from academics, who say Amazon’s size has warped the economy.
Amazon’s come a long way from its origins as an online bookseller founded in 1994. Through a series of expansions and mergers, the company now functions as an all-encompassing digital marketplace, a Netflix competitor, a gadget manufacturer, a web services provider, and, since 2017 and its purchase of Whole Foods, a high-end grocery chain.
But while Amazon expands, Whole Foods staff say they’re facing layoffs.
“In the last three years we have experienced layoffs, job consolidations, reduced labor budgets, poor wage growth, and constantly being asked to do more with less resources and now with less compensation,” Whole Foods workers in a pro-union group wrote in a letter to colleagues, which was shared with The Daily Beast.
The letter took aim at Amazon CEO Bezos, describing “majority of his workers” as living “paycheck to paycheck.”
Prior to the Amazon acquisition, all full-time Whole Foods workers received company stock options. But after the merger, only store managers and executives received the options, the workers claimed in their letter. “The clandestine nature of Amazon offering stock options to Store Leadership without informing TMs [team members] is beyond problematic,” the group wrote. “It is insulting and unethical.”