Categories
Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Surveillance Capitalism

Palantir, riding Amazon Web Services, Knows Too Much

From the New York Times:

The U.S. Army uses Palantir’s technologies for logistics. The investment bank Credit Suisse uses it to guard against money laundering. The pharmaceutical company Merck, in Germany, uses it to expedite the development of new drugs. Ferrari Scuderia uses it to try to make its Formula 1 cars faster. In the United States, the Department of Health and Human Services is using Palantir’s software to analyze virus-related data. In the NY Times magazine cover story, Michael Steinberger reports on Palantir, the secretive tech company that’s seen by some as:

a particularly malignant avatar of the Big Data revolution.

Unmentioned by the NY Times in their teaser above, Palantir has contracts with many US police departments to provide “big data” for so-called “predictive policing,” (referred to by some as PREDATORY policing) which is the draping of a scientific veneer of “objectivity” on racial profiling and the criminalization og Black, Indigenous and other People of Color communties

Categories
Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign Labor actions

Vigil at Bezos Mansion on Prime Day, Oct 13

A few hours of support for essential workers = Many days of services so we can shelter at home

 UPDATE: About 50 people attended for a candle-light vigil. Bezos’ s mansion has the highest hedge I have ever seen, about four stories high.

PRIME DAY! OCTOBER 13, 2020   6pm to 8pm

CANDLELIGHT VIGIL AT THE BEZOS MANSION

1801 Angelo Drive, Beverly Hills, 90210

• Support the workers’ demand for safe PPE and a rank and file safety committee.

Amazon workers will be participating with facial covering to avoid retaliation.

“Even if Jeff Bezos gave $170,000 to every employee in Amazon he would still have the same wealth as before the pandemic. This is the extent to which he has profited from this historically tragic moment.

“Amazon workers are essential! Our lifeline to the basic things we need, yet they continue to put their health, and the health of loved ones they go home to every night at risk. We must stand in solidarity with them.”

AMAZON’S COVID NUMBERS

19,816 have tested positive for Covid-19. (does not include any 3rd party deliverers or contractors)

Source: Amazon/Rueters

 Hawthorne Distribution Center, 2815 W. El Segundo = 42 cases. Includes first confirm death due to Covid-19.

 Eastvale Fulfillment Center, 4950 Goodman Road, Eastvale (San Bernardino County), CA= 55 cases.

Source: directly from workers inside.

 Amazon under investigation from CA Attorney General for unsafe practices during pandemic

https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2020-07-27/amazons-warehouse-safety-spurs-investigation-by-california-attorney-general

  1. “Andy”-Amazon worker from Hawthorne distribution center. – “Please join us at our CEO’s mansion to demand PPE’s, a rank and file safety committee, paid sick days off.”

  1. Chris Smalls- fired Amazon worker. “Amazon smears Smalls with racist anti-union campaign”-The Real News.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTQiTliRxig

  1. Non-union Somali Amazon workers on one day strike in Minnesota.

  1. Adam Diaz, Director, Warehouse Workers Resource Center, PANA member

Amazon workers’ demographics for the US (50 states)

Total workers (July 2020) Approx. 1 million in USA. Amazon Net income – $225 billion, 2019.

65% – Non-White, 34.7% White

26.5% Black

18.5% Hispanic

15.4% Asian –  154,000 API workers with a majority of them in California & Hawai’i.

3.6%  2 or more races

1.3% Native indigenous

53% male, 47% female

The Big Picture: How does Bezos make so much? While Amazon and all workers and community in the US must unite, it is our job in the US to educate and build solidarity with Amazon workers in the global south upon whose exploitation the Amazon empire and US Imperialism depends.  Broad public exposure of inhumane conditions and pay makes it difficult for Amazon to “divide” US workers and consumers with “better” benefits (relative to the global south) and American racism about “immigrant” and or “foreign workers” threatening American jobs.

   

1.Philippines: Amazon-Product Research worker- $1.31 per hour Investigations are ongoing for allegations of “inhumane” treatment of workers forced to lock-down inside work facilities and sleep on floors due to the pandemic.

2. Hengyang, China: Amazon contractor Foxxconn assembler – $2.14 per hour

3. San Bernardino, CA: Fullfillment Center – $15.00 per hour entry level

4. Seattle, WA: Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO – $13 million per hour

 Since the Covid-19 pandemic began PANA has supported the non-union Amazon workers through the Warehouse Workers Resource Center and we have supported nurses who have been fighting for adequate PPE and safe patient care procedures through the CA Nurses Association, AFL-CIO, at Kaiser Sunset and at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.

• Healthcare workers, in particular nurses, have some of the highest death rates battling the pandemic as “essential” workers, like the Amazon workers. Both have been very visible in LA and the nation in their fights.

• Healthcare workers have one of the highest concentrations of API workers. In CA, about a quarter of all RNs are API, the majority Filipino/a.

• Amazon workers nationwide include about 154,000 Asian/Pacific Islander workers, with a significant number in CA, all non-union.

 PANA: Peace, Justice & Equality for the 99%

Categories
Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Labor actions

19,000+ Amazon Workers Contracted COVID-19

One former reality-TV host gets COVID and it’s world-wide news. But the 19,000 “essential workers” for Amazon who have caught it so far are only covered in “Business Insider,” as PayDay Report takes note:

 

Over 19,000 Amazon Workers Test Positive for COVID-19

 
With people choosing online over in-store shopping, Amazon’s business has boomed. However, it comes at a high cost for its workers. 

On Thursday Amazon announced that since March, 19,816 of its workers have contracted COVID-19. Amazon claims the rate is lower than the general population’s, but workplace safety advocates warn that the company has had a history of hiding injuries. 

More from Business Insider:

Frontline employees working for both Amazon and Whole Foods have repeatedly gone on strikefiled whistleblower complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and individual states’ workplace safety agencies, sued the company, and reached out to media organizations to draw attention to what they say are unsafe working conditions during the pandemic.

Amazon also has a long history of workers raising the alarm about workplace safety which resurfaced this week with a report from Reveal detailing how the company downplayed injury rates. The company has also aggressively cracked down on whistleblowers, firing multiple employees during the pandemic who spoke out about issues, monitoring their private social media conversations, and using technology to track workers seeking to organize for better conditions and pay.

Categories
Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power

Can Amazon Conquer the World? NY Times “On Tech”

Excerpt with link to pieces in the NY Times. You can subscribe to their “On Tech” newsletter by email without being a NY Times subscriber, as I understand it:

 

Technology

September 28, 2020

Can Amazon conquer the world?

Gianluca Alla
Author Headshot By Shira Ovide
Amazon is the opposite of our romantic imagination of Italian villages lined with bakeries and old cobbler shops. But the pandemic persuaded Italians to overcome their reluctance to online shopping — and Amazon.
Adam Satariano, who writes about European technology for The New York Times, talked to me about his article on why Amazon’s playbook started to work in Italy, and if the country is a template for other parts of the world where Amazon hasn’t caught on.
There are underlying questions in Adam’s article: Will Amazon become something the world doesn’t really have: a dominant, globally popular store? And what might we gain and lose from that?
Shira: Why wasn’t Amazon that popular in Italy before now?
Adam: Online shopping has never been as common there as it is in the United States or elsewhere in Europe. Italy has the oldest population in Europe, and people tend to prefer shopping in stores and paying in cash. Roads in many parts of the country, especially in the less affluent south, are pretty bad.
The pandemic changed habits. One survey found that two million Italians tried e-commerce for the first time from January to May. Amazon was ready for this moment. So was Esselunga, an Italian grocery company that has done well with food delivery.
How did Amazon get ready?
The company was patient. Since it started in Italy in 2010, it slowly built warehouses and a distribution network, and convinced merchants to sell their products online. For local appeal, Amazon sponsors events like a Christmas festival in remote villages to show that the company can reach everywhere. Amazon also let Italians earmark a percentage of their purchases for local schools.
How do Italians feel about Amazon?
There’s tension between tradition and change. There’s concern about what a shift to online shopping means for the economy and culture in a country where small and midsize businesses are a large part of the economy. In Italy, as elsewhere in Europe, there are strikes and organized efforts to get better pay, benefits and working conditions.
Categories
Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power

Amazon Bribery Scheme to Game Customer Reviews

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-24/amazon-amzn-bribery-scheme-could-be-tip-of-the-iceberg

It’s described as potentially “a $100 million dollar swindle.”

NY Times tech columnist writes:

  • A wild crime story about our software-driven lives: Prosecutors have charged former Amazon employees and e-commerce consultants with bribing Amazon workers for years to erase bad reviews, get competitors booted off the site for bogus reasons and other manipulations, Bloomberg News reported. The tactics show that what people buy on Amazon is influenced by computerized assessments of things like reviews and the reputation of the seller — and that those factors can be gamed.
Categories
Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Surveillance Capitalism

Amazon Hawking Q-Anon Conspiracy Products

https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-selling-qanon-shirts-masks-products-2020-8

Excerpt:

  • Amazon currently displays hundreds of results for products associated with QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory, which the FBI has deemed as posing potential domestic terrorism threats.
  • Business Insider found hundreds of results for t-shirts, books, stickers, masks, and other items when searching for “QAnon” in Amazon’s marketplace.
  • However, not all of the results were directly tied to the far-right fringe conspiracy theory — some were pro-Trump propaganda or messaging associated with “Blue Lives Matter.”
  • Amazon’s third-party seller policy prohibits the sale of “products that promote, incite or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.”
  • While Amazon lists hundreds of QAnon-related items for sale, other tech companies including Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook have declared a hardened stance against QAnon-related content leading up to the 2020 presidential election.

 

Categories
Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power

Whole Foods Censors Its Workers, Who Walk Out

https://truthout.org/articles/whole-foods-is-quietly-telling-workers-not-to-show-black-lives-matter-support/

This week, a group of Whole Foods workers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, walked out after being told they couldn’t wear Black Lives Matter masks because they weren’t part of “the company dress code.”

Prior to the incident, wearing masks with other symbols or logos, including ones that featured the New England Patriots, were reportedly acceptable.

This is according to a report in the Boston Globe, which details how Whole Foods worker Savannah Kinzer and a few of her colleagues wore BLM-themed masks on Wednesday. A manager told them they either had to remove the masks or go home. Seven of them walked out. On Thursday, Kinzer showed up and passed out more masks, but they were met with the same fate. Dozens of workers were sent home again.

The story from Boston is merely one of many reports of many of Whole Foods workers being sent home for wearing masks featuring the phrase or iconography of “Black Lives Matter.” There are similar reports from workers at Whole Foods stores in New Hampshire and Seattle, Washington. In Philadelphia, protesters protested in front of one Whole Foods after a similar incident occurred.

Categories
Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power

Amazon Monopoly Power in COVID Marketplace

https://www.propublica.org/article/the-amazon-lockdown-how-an-unforgiving-algorithm-drives-suppliers-to-favor-the-e-commerce-giant-over-other-retailers

At a time when much of the retail sector is collapsing, Amazon is strengthening its competitive position in ways that could outlast the pandemic — and that could raise antitrust concerns. Increasingly, manufacturers of in-demand products are catering to Amazon, while competing retailers take the leftovers, consultants and brand executives told ProPublica.

“Amazon has the power to bury sellers and suppliers if they don’t comply,” said Sally Hubbard, director of enforcement strategy at Open Markets Institute, a think tank that has been critical of Amazon and other big tech companies. “It might be automated through an algorithm, but it’s still the wrath of the monopolist that they are afraid of. … Amazon is able to cut off its competitors’ access to inventory by leveraging its monopoly power.”

As locked-down shoppers have flocked to buy food, medicine, cleaning supplies and personal care products on Amazon, the retailer has in turn upped its suggested inventory levels for many manufacturers that sell their products on its platform. It has also expanded purchases of certain essential products that it sells directly to shoppers, often buying two or three times as much as it did before the pandemic, executives said.

Note from BDS-LA: There is an economic concept called “monopsony” — the power of a BUYER rather than a manufacturer or seller to make the market and set prices. Amazon appears to have created a third category, by straddling the line between wholesaler and retailer as the essential “middleman”.  By demanding the lion’s-share of product from producers on an all-or-nothing basis, they become the go-to site for purchasers, driving smaller retailers to the brink.