As many of you have surely heard, the New York Times recently wrote an expose of the working culture at Amazon.com, which got a fair amount of coverage and some vigorous responses from Amazon.
This is on top of the articles from 2011 that were published relative to the working conditions in Amazon.com warehouses, where the claim was made that Amazon had stationed ambulances outside of those warehouses because workers were fainting from the heat.
If you want to know why we actually still need unions, here’s the proof positive.
Unions are no longer popular, and especially public employee unions are now often despised. And, to be fair, unions have made tactical mistakes over the years, sometimes refusing to compromise under circumstances where compromise would have been well-advised.
But there is a reason that unions were established to begin with and that we have a National Labor Relations Act. The reason is that sometimes people need to bargain collectively — because management is almost always more powerful than individual employees with respect to negotiating leverage — and sometimes that collective power is need to push back against unfair and unhealthy workplace practices.
The news is not uniformly bad, of course. There have been some generous benefits provided in certain famous high tech companies like Google or Netflix, for example. But let’s face it, not that many of us can work for Google or Netflix.