You probably already know that Amazon mistreats its warehouse workers. But did you know that the Great Walmart in the Sky mistreats its delivery drivers, too? Dave Jamieson at the Huffington Post has written a great story about how Amazon is hiring independent contractors to do their delivery, rather than larger companies that are unionized and actually pay their workers a living wage.
Delivery drivers are the real Amazon drones — workers who hustle to feed our growing demand for next-day or same-day delivery from online retailers. And as the e-commerce industry continues to grow, the drivers classified as independent contractors are the ones feeling the squeeze.
These particular drivers work under a system that shifts the costs associated with employment away from the company and onto the worker. In this arrangement, a busted transmission can be the difference between putting food on the table and being out of a job. That's partly why the service is so cheap for retailers, and, ultimately, for customers as well.
For starters, a delivery company using independent contractors avoids paying payroll or unemployment taxes on its drivers, as well as workers' compensation insurance — nevermind basic workplace benefits like health coverage and a 401(k). Such companies also aren't obliged to pay workers overtime under federal law, meaning no time and a half when the delivery day stretches into a 12-hour shift. And since they pay drivers on a per-delivery basis, they don't owe them anything for non-delivery work, like loading the van at the warehouse before hitting the road, a task that can take up to two hours.
The arrangement also makes it virtually impossible for the drivers to unionize since they're non-employees.
Seattle is home to a lot of Amazon employees who make great money. But those employees are standing on the backs of these other employees who are getting screwed out of a fair wage and basic workers rights. And your discounted goods are being delivered by workers who basically have no rights. Go read about where your savings come from.
But, you know, Amazon's sales are still exploding, so hooray for fucking over the little people!