When you click “order” in your Amazon shopping cart, a chain reaction begins to deliver this yoga mat in record time. Thousands of Amazon employees like me are at the center of it all.
Unfortunately, because of the abusive conditions Amazon forces its warehouse workers to work in, that yoga mat only arrives at your door the next day. Walking 30 miles per shift. Minimal bathroom breaks. Twelve hour days for pay and benefits – not enough to support my family and not enough coming from one of the richest companies. These were conditions I witnessed time and time again during my three years as a laborer in New Jersey and later as a supervisor at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island.
This kind of treatment is wrong, and it’s only going to get worse as Amazon undergoes the biggest layoff in the company’s history. We deserve a seat at the table, which is why I led the first successful alliance effort at an Amazon fulfillment center. Our campaign still has a long way to go, and I’ve seen first-hand how hard Amazon will fight to keep its workers’ boots on their necks. The company trades in fear and intimidation – they even arrested me to try to stop me, which made me fight harder for justice.
But recently I began to see a bigger picture: how Amazon is using the same tactics to stifle companies that are potential competitors. As John Oliver explained in a segment that went viral this summer, Amazon uses its advantage to prevent competitors from ever having a chance to compete. Amazon copies products made by actual small businesses, favors their products in search results over the originals, and in the process reduces quality and choice for consumers.
These tactics have far-reaching consequences not only for competitors and employees, but also for the economy and society as a whole.
The lack of accountability has allowed Big Tech companies to maintain competitive practices and use market share to stifle innovation. But a bipartisan bill currently being considered on Capitol Hill could change that. The bill — the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICO) — would spur innovation, increase competition, improve product quality, empower small businesses and lower prices for consumers by competing on the merits of their products and services, not companies like Amazon. they use their advantage to kill the competition.
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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is refusing to bring the bill to a vote, even though he has the necessary votes to pass it. The Biden administration has done everything it can to push for a vote on the bill, and voters have said they will reward action on the economy with a midterm vote. What is Sumer waiting for?
That’s the truth Schumer talks about supporting labor and holds monopolies accountable, but he misses the chance to do something about it. It’s time for Schumer to act. Here’s why.
First, it’s not about left or right politics, it’s about the workforce and ending corporate abuse. More competition equals more workforce, and more workforce equals stronger democracy. Our country was founded on the idea of free and fair markets, but now the corporate greed and monopolistic behavior of Big Tech companies is destroying it right before our eyes. This bill will help us ensure free and fair competition that promotes the best of American innovation and competition, instead of the racketeering that the biggest corporations make.
Second, the fight to hold Amazon accountable is to protect the future of the internet. Antitrust laws haven’t been meaningfully updated since the internet, and it’s easy to see how tech companies have taken advantage of this lack of oversight to make more money than most countries, write their own rules, and offer worse products. road. Someone recently compared Google’s increasingly less useful search results to the feeling of walking through a dying mall. The same can be felt on the internet – from Amazon to Facebook. AICO will help you fix this.
And finally, most Americans support the bill, including prominent members of Schumer’s own party. Democrats across the political spectrum — from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to President Biden — support the bill. So are conservative Republicans like Sen. Chuck Grassley.
There is no good reason for Sumer to wait. It’s time for him to step up and stand up for competition, workers’ rights and fair markets. We the people – the people these companies depend on day in and day out – will not stop until this fight is won.
Smalls is president of the Amazon Labor Union.