Popular TikTokers speak out against Amazon’s labor practices

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Amazon workers are walking off the job in frustration and agitating for union representation, with campaigns underway at three of the retail giant’s locations. Now TikTokers are joining the union fight.

Dozens of content creators on the video platform are pushing other influencers to blacklist the e-commerce company in order to push for higher wages and working conditions for warehouse workers. As part of their campaign, they target Amazon’s influencer marketing program, encouraging people who sell on TikTok to sever their relationship with the company.

“You all have an audience, you all have people clicking through your little Amazon storefronts that you get a commission from. Is it worth it at the expense of working-class people?” TikToker Gaya said in a video Wednesday.

The “People over Prime” country launched on Tuesday with about 70 participants who have 51 million followers on TikTok, according to Gen-Z for Change, the nonprofit group leading the effort.

The creators are demanding a $30 minimum wage at Amazon warehouses, more productivity quotas, and a halt to Amazon’s union-busting efforts. The company fiercely resisted pressure from workers to unionize, including requiring employees to attend union-busting meetings and threatening to cut wages and benefits for those who vote for the union, according to a filed complaint. with National Labor Relations. Plank.

“There are so many people, especially young people, on the internet who have no idea what impact shopping on Amazon has on workers, on the environment,” said 19-year-old Dylan Troesken. TikToker. “It scares me how big they are and how powerful a corporation can be.”

Warehouse workers and labor rights groups have long complained of high accident rates, surveillance and aggressive union-busting efforts at Amazon.

The company said its pay, which starts at $17 an hour, is the best in the industry and its injury rates aren’t as high as they seem. When asked about the TikTok campaign, Amazon spokesperson Paul Flaningan released the following statement:

“We have invested billions of dollars in new operational safety measures, technologies and other innovative solutions that protect our employees. We have expanded our global occupational health and safety team to more than 8,000 employees at around the world who use innovation, technology and We are committed to giving our people the resources they need to succeed, creating time for regular breaks and a comfortable work pace, and working directly with any person who needs extra support to meet their needs. Goals.”

Amazon also said it conducts “thousands” of safety inspections at its facilities every day, making changes based on worker feedback, as well as consultations with health and safety experts.

Aim for marketing dollars

TikTokers’ new campaign takes aim at Amazon’s influencer marketing program, which the e-commerce company is trying to develop.

Through the program, popular social media accounts can earn commissions from 1% to 20% on the Amazon products they recommend. In May, Amazon hosted more than a dozen influencers on a weekend getaway to Mexico, where the stars enjoyed food and drink and learned how to set up a showcase On the platform. Amazon has also recruited more than 5,000 influencers to highlight products ahead of its Prime Day sales, according to Insider. Intelligence.

Influencer marketing itself is a growing field, with companies expected to sell $960 billion worth of products through social platforms, according to a report of the influencer marketing hub.

While Instagram creators make the most marketing dollars, TikTok has the youngest audience. The website is the second most popular to place worldwide, according to Cloudflare.

Amazon “knows the power of creators, and for over a year they’ve been trying to hang on to TikTok because it’s a gateway for young people and a gateway for work,” Elise Joshi , chief strategy officer at Gen-Z for Change, told CBS MoneyWatch.

Joshi, 20, said she was inspired to launch the campaign when an Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island became the first Amazon location in the United States to unionize. The two groups did not coordinate during the campaign, but Amazon union chief Chris Smalls told the Washington Post that he supported TikTok’s effort.

“It’s a good fight to fight because Amazon is definitely scared of how we’ve used TikTok during our campaigns,” Smalls told The Daily Mail. Job.

The Amazon campaign lasted several months, said Joshi, who also helped run campaigns targeting Kroger and Starbucks. (When these companies were accused of retaliating against organized workers, Gen-Z for Change activists spammed their job portals with thousands of fake apps.)

Amazon’s dominance in online shopping and its forays into media and other services make it hard for people to avoid the company in everyday life. “Amazon seems untouchable. You can’t ask people not to shop there,” Joshi said.

That’s one of the reasons she hopes a public campaign will be more effective in drawing attention to the company’s labor practices than something like a consumer boycott, which would be impractical.

“I want it to be known that the creators of TikTok do not condone Amazon on the platform,” she added. “This should be a reputational hazard – TikTok creators shouldn’t partner with anti-worker companies.”

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