Copied and saved from a Facebook comment I made.
The revelations aren’t surprising, this is pretty standard startup fare. Or really just the way the economy is going in general – more work, less pay (http://www.motherjones.com/…/speed-up-american-workers… ) and increasingly terrible work-life balance ( http://qz.com/…/americans-dont-just-work-longer-hours…/ ), and less regular work (http://www.theguardian.com/…/gig-economy-silicon-valley… ). Which sort of gets to another point, that this mediated work brutality is nothing compared to the regular un-mediated work brutality of the gig economy (http://www.fastcompany.com/…/pixel-and-dimed-on-not… ).
Nor is it particularly surprising as Amazon’s tactics, because *we already knew* they were doing this shit to blue-collar workers and have for a while (http://www.theawl.com/…/how-amazon-solved-the-problem… ). This is pretty sad, that the real push back against Amazon care around white collar and not blue collar workers, and it probably says something particularly nasty about our culture.
That said, for all the things that make this unsurprising and ordinary, it is the Amazon’s ruthless effectiveness in transforming their workers that makes it extraordinary. It isn’t just that it works them hard and creates a cut-throat environment with burn-out as basically a goal, that part isn’t unusual. It is how it gets its employees to love it so effectively. More than that, how it actually works.
The promise of the tech sector is ‘don’t unionize, you don’t need to because if labor conditions are truly horrible the market will adjust’ (http://gawker.com/report-upworthys-lefty-owners-scared… ). Which, amusingly, is basically Amazon’s defense:
“The fundamental flaw in the story is the suggestion that any company that had the kind of culture that The New York Times wrote about, sort of a cruel, Darwinian, or Dickensian kind of atmosphere in the workplace could survive and thrive in today’s market place,” – http://seattle.cbslocal.com/…/amazon-bruising…/
What shocks people is that they had believed this. If conditions got truly bad, surely the market would select against an employer and they wouldn’t be able to get the employees they needed to run. This article is so interesting because it puts yet another stake in the coffin for that idea.