Amazon’s driver is one year old. And it’s all our fault. And though they worked on the whims of big tech, help came in the form of an unexpected app.
Over the course of the past year, Amazon delivery drivers have posted TikToks of everything from stealing salary to be overworked, are from pee in a bottle delivery in natural disaster. The combination of a continuing global pandemic that has skyrocketed demand for online retail and a shrinking labor market has been stressful for everyone. But Amazon drivers have had to take the brunt of the strain.
The company pushes them to the extreme, but the consumer accepts that trade-off blindly, happily entrusting their illness to lunatic, obscure things. Thankfully, social media is helping to highlight the actual costs.
Amazon is the largest online delivery retailer in the world, with over 500,000 delivery drivers working independently for small businesses through its Global Delivery Services Program. Its fractured nature was designed to prevent calls for change from growing, but these videos and the ensuing outrage forced Amazon to eventually confrontation the workplace it creates.
Amazon drivers are already qualified for employment, abuse, and the company in general, and are using TikTok to speak for themselves. Amazon drivers have complained about work before by sharing on Reddit, using Discord, or posting on Twitter, but now they have a wider audience and more confines than ever before. . One video of an Amazon driver on anyone’s For You site can quickly turn into five, ten, twenty videos of Amazon drivers demonstrating their daily lives and the abuse they face. .
And TikTok can drive more attention to any viral moment.
In the first quarter of this year alone, Amazon workers made a bunch of headlines. In January, a white woman was seen pointing a gun at the black Amazon driver, which caused outrage on Reddit. Not only that, but one commenter alleged that Amazon doesn’t refuse to deliver to people who threaten their drivers.
“I delivered to a home last week and the rabbit (Amazon delivery device) told me in the note that ‘please call/text customer on arrival, customer threatened) other drivers with guns “.” confirmed u / skin_peeler.
In February, the drivers won by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Amazon reportedly bought its contract drivers for $61.7 million tip for the past two years and was ordered to pay the FTC the amount owed. The agency has agreed to repay all the money owed to drivers and says Amazon’s language regarding tips is a bogus promise.
“Instead of transferring 100% of a customer’s tip to the driver, as they promised to do, Amazon used the money itself,” said Daniel Kaufman, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The FTC says it will send more than 100,000 checks and more than 1,600 payments via PayPal to Amazon drivers. While the FTC’s ruling is a win for Amazon drivers, it’s a small victory in the larger battle over fair wages and a safe work environment.
The FTC’s decision would not have happened without a shift in public attitudes toward Amazon and big tech as a whole: anger at the technology’s ruthless dominance and its toxic work environment. And to combat the workplace, workers are turning to a tried and true method of organizing: unions.
In April, a consolidation attempt at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama was thwarted, but the election led many drivers to believe they should also try to merge. Before the results of the union vote, two Amazon contract drivers created an informal survey to see if the driver is facing the same problem as them and publish it to the Amazon drivers Reddit and Discord channels. More than 500 people responded, complaining about the apps used to track drivers, the speed they had to deliver (sometimes restricting water intake to avoid damaging the bathroom), and the cameras tracking them relentlessly. Included in the survey was a question about whether contract Amazon drivers (also known as Amazon DSP drivers) should be consolidated. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said yes.
Eight percent of April survey respondents said they make $15-18 an hour. Most of the respondents complained about the cameras that have just been inserted into Amazon delivery trucks to track drivers’ facial expressions and a safety app that causes drivers to brake hard, accelerate too quickly, or make deliveries. Item is too slow. Despite these complaints, there’s not much that individual drivers — or DSP partners — can do.
Amazon DSP drivers are employed by small businesses that contract through Amazon. A DSP company can only have up to 40 drivers, creating a limit to ensure one partner isn’t too powerful. Individual delivery partners can merge, but if they do, Amazon has other options. In June, a delivery partner in Portland sent a letter to Amazon asking to change their program, citing mental health challenges, low wages and overworked drivers. This is a small business that takes the driver’s side and tries to demand change from the tech giant. Amazon rejected their changes and shortly thereafter the delivery partner’s contract with Amazon was terminated.
Unlike in the past, where such calls could have died after being squashed, TikTok is helping to keep the news of their plight constant. Motorists have gone viral for praising working or delivery conditions during natural disasters. Across the country, drivers are seen delivering packages after tornadoes and in flood a lot of time. During the heatwave in the Northeast earlier this year, DSP drivers were told to “take more breaks” when working in the scorching heat.
Labor exploitation is not new, but with TikTok’s growing popularity and ability to connect people across the country and world, 2021 has pushed the plight of Amazon drivers into the mainstream. . Other labor movements have spawned from or benefited from similar contagion, such as October general strike motion and r / antiwork subreddit. Amid ongoing labor shortages, a global pandemic, a protracted Great Recession and the biggest drop in the dollar decline since the 1980s, people are paying attention to labor. Whether that creates substantive change or makes the country more empathetic to the workers helping them every day remains to be seen.
But at least people are finally paying attention. And we have TikTok to thank for that.
*First published: December 15, 2021, 8:08 a.m. CST
https://www.dailydot.com/debug/amazon-drivers-tiktok-2021/ Amazon drivers used TikTok to tell us real delivery costs