NYT report: Amazon is hell to work at

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Amazon took a lot of heat for treating its warehouse workers like indentured servants. They would like you to know they they are completely egalitarian–they treat everybody that way.


“…Also, new company policy. At 08:35:165 past the hour, every employee must take their required laugh break. Any employee seen not laughing will be sent for retraining. Any employees caught wasting facial muscles on frowning is stealing facial-muscle time from The Amazon, and will be billed accordingly. Laughter will be head in the halls of my creation!”


I’ve worked at development shops that use those same psychological tactics to get people to associate their self-worth with the ability to endure long hours and poor treatment. I think we’ll see more companies adopt these methods unless people are made aware of the fact that they’re being manipulated. (Thanks, NYT!)


“We are thrilled that Amazon has chosen Joliet as the location for its new Illinois fulfillment center,” said City of Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk. “The company is not only the leader in the e-commerce sector, but it also will create quality jobs for a diverse community throughout Joliet and Will County.”


It’s SO telling that Bezos doesn’t deny a single allegation from the NYT article. Not one.


I’m shocked to hear that a guy who came out of a hedge fund has the same mentality about treating all workers as cogs.

Oh, wait, Amazon has something at $3 less, great! Sorry local store, your healthcare costs are too much for me to bear.


Why should he? You can’t seriously think he cares? Wouldn’t he have done something about his workplaces by now if he did? Something something “Quote from Office Space of Peter’s conversation with The Bobs” something something.

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So given their ‘unconventional’ management practices, brutal warehouse labor environment, and general just-one-step-above-Walmart for destroying the fabric of American small-businesses and mom-and-pop retail shops, is there any other way BoingBoing and its associated sites can make money without linking to their product pages every chance it gets?


This is easily the slimiest bullshit I’ve heard yet today, at least in context. There has to be a word for when someone asks “Now why would I do that? That wouldn’t work, anyway!” instead of actually denying something. It sets up a false premise about the way the market works, when in fact powerful people have been making sure that unemployment stays at a level that makes people desperate, and their news arms certainly make sure that every worker knows how grateful they should feel to be alive…grateful to the generous, life-giving Job-Creator Gods.

“You are recruited every day by other world-class companies, and you can work anywhere you want.” == “If you don’t like it, take your bat and ball and go elsewhere, cog.” I work at an amazing non-profit that I actually enjoy working at, and have a lot of respect for my boss, but even she drops this one if someone starts asking for “too much”.



No, but an Amazon employee published this obvious PR piece, claiming it wasn’t PR and was on his own initiative. Amazon suggests that people buying that will be interested in buying this bridge.


Hey, I think one of my old employers wrote that rule!

They banned smoking breaks once. This was a London based company where 99% of the staff were continental Europeans - the office literally emptied every couple hours. That rule did not go down well (nor last long).

I’m a big bad boss now - and the thought of creating policies that make my employees less comfortable and less happy just boggles my mind - I mean I actually want them to perform well, to stick around and to do good work. Too many idiots at the top.

A friend of mine once gave me this piece of info, and I’ve never doubted it or forgotten it: What’s the one quality that every employee wants from their management? Fairness. Pretty much everything else extends from that. Keep that keyword in mind with every decision and you’ll likely have a happy workforce - and yet 95% of managers just don’t get it.

And we all know about the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Principle.


Someone else suggested it - but I’d rather see a subscribe link (ala Rock Paper Shotgun) or a donation mechanism than see 4/5 articles shilling for crap nobody needs. It’s now the Amazon links and the whitelabel store junk - the rampant commercialism often feels at odds with the general tone here (Google ‘Cory Doctorow BoingBoing Amazon’ and bask in the hypocritical irony). And yes, I am disappointed in BoingBoing.

The magic stuff Mark posts is OK I guess - because that is clearly something he is passionate about. If the article stands on its own without the affiliate link then I don’t think anyone has any issue with the content. I don’t know how you really draw that line, but it definitely feels like we’ve gone over it (although the discussions on the articles are often fun, because the stuff they sell is often so awful or pointless that it’s good comment fodder - at least they’ve packed it in with the dodgy VPNs).

Edited to remove a potentially inflammatory paragraph that didn’t add anything to the point.


Amazon Worker Song. Written one day in a fit of inspiration after the news were saturated with Smirky A’s attempt to build here a slave galley warehouse fulfillment center.

Rather lousy recording. Feel free to redo it better, I’ll be delighted.

Stupid, stupid idea. Smoking breaks are the moments when most of the actually useful information exchange happens, without the formalities and much of the politics. It’s when the gripes are relayed and suggestions aired. It’s an actually useful kind of a meeting, without the powerpoint; there’s blowing smoke, still, but it’s at least the right kind of smoke.


I don’t smoke any more but it was when I did most of my best thinking! … which explains a lot.


Dear nerds who think Amazon is an awful corporate citizen but buy from them anyway: it may surprise you to learn that there ARE other places to shop online.

I’ve been boycotting Amazon for about seven years now and I’ve never felt deprived or more than moderately inconvenienced.


Maybe you just thought you did most of your best thinking while smoking.


This. If the market worked the way people claimed it did, I’d be able to sacrifice salary in order to find a job that guarantees I’ll work no more than forty hours in a week, enabling me to make reliable promises to my family. In reality, all I can do is guess which companies value the free time of employees at all, and which ones even make an effort to get the workload under control, and in many cases, the only way to know for sure is to work there first. In market terms, the price is hidden and therefore not a part of the negotiation. It appears that all companies are moving toward extracting as many hours as possible from salaried workers, because all their competitors are doing it, and the market is punishing no one.