Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dear Amazon

Dear Amazon,
I'm writing to let you know that, in spite of the fact that I own a Kindle, I'm not going to spend another cent at Amazon until I hear that you are (1) treating your employees better and (2) no longer a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). All of the people you employ are worthy of human respect and dignity, and our democracy must no longer be subverted by corporations who think their money entitles them to legislative work-arounds. Not only am I not going to spend another cent on Amazon, but I'm encouraging my friends who support workers and love democracy to do the same.
Most sincerely,
Mary Ray Worley
P.S. And I'm deleting my wish list.
I e-mailed the above letter to Amazon this afternoon. I received the following response:
Thank you for your feedback. Please see our message at:
We hope to see you again soon.
Best regards,
Sai Rongali
The link goes to a page with this message:
A Message from Amazon - September 22, 2011

There's been recent news coverage regarding temperatures and working conditions in our Breinigsville, Pennsylvania, fulfillment center.

Certain parts of the country experienced unusually high temperatures this summer. We spent more than $2.4 million urgently installing industrial air conditioning units in four of our fulfillment centers, including our Breinigsville facility. These industrial air conditioning units were online and operational by late July and early August. This was not mandated by any governmental agency, and in fact air conditioning remains an unusual practice in warehouses. We'll continue to operate these air conditioning units or equivalent ones in future summers.

We have temporary employees working in our facilities for two reasons - to manage variation in customer demand throughout the year and as a way of finding high-quality full-time employees. There are 1,381 full-time employees in Breinigsville, all of whom receive full-time benefits including healthcare. Since January of this year, 850 temporary employees in Breinigsville have been converted to full-time employment.

We welcome and embrace questions about our preparedness and planning, and indeed we routinely ask those internally, but those who know us well don't doubt our intent or our focus on employee safety.

Thank you. [emphasis added]
I like how hard they work to make sure the reader knows how protecting their temporary employees from being cooked alive is not "mandated by any government agency." Never mind that it's mandated by human decency.

I really hope it's true that Amazon is going to some considerable effort to do right by their temporary employees, and that they'll insist that their private contractors do the same. But I couldn't help but notice that nothing was said about Amazon's membership in ALEC. So they won't be seeing me again soon.

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