Amazon has created of itself an international proving ground for workforce manipulation and experimentation, testing the limits of human beings as a technical tool. Everyone who cares about what the US labor landscape is going to look like over the next 5-15 years should be paying attention to this and chiming in. This is important for private and public policymakers and the culture at large.
Using methods and strategies traditionally associated with authoritative control systems, not hourly wage employers, Amazon is challenging limits of culturally acceptable labor control methods in the United States. To what avail? Allegiance is low, morale is low, turnover is high, submission is high, passive resignation is high. The strategy fails and wins at the same time.
The company has introduced rhetorical strategies to superficially temper its inexorable drive for production efficiency, to normalize deceptive and manipulative labor practices–pushing the boundaries of regressive labor policies using modern technology and information systems. I see this as a danger to the current workforce, but even more so for the next two generations if these policies are reified into acceptable practice.
Amazon acts upon its workforce with impunity, necessitating intervention by way of labor organization, public scrutiny at the State and Federal levels, and cultural censure. Amazon, at least in the United States, might have created a proving ground for the resurgence of unions’ ability to protect employee citizens between 2017 and 2020.