Several pro-union Amazon employees attended a press conference outside New York City Hall Wednesday morning, ahead of a hearing about the company’s proposed “second headquarters” in Long Island City, Queens. Last month, Amazon announced that it had chosen Long Island City to be the site of one of its new mega offices, where 25,000 white-collar employees are expected to eventually work. The secretive deal, which netted Amazon over a billion dollars in governmental incentives, has incited a backlash among some local residents and politicians. The Staten Island organizers plan to use the HQ2 deal as leverage for their own efforts.
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“My hands hurt all the time. I can’t even write,” Sharon Bleach, a Staten Island Amazon employee, said outside City Hall Wednesday. Bleach, 60, has worked at the company for only a month, and said she is forced to work with boxes stacked up all around her. She worries there would be no way to escape in the case of a fire or accident. In response to Bleach’s concerns, Robinson said she should talk to her managers and that “all exits and walkways are clearly marked and kept clear.” She added that Amazon surveys all workers each month about their perceptions of safety conditions.
Amazon’s employees do have several factors working in their favor. For one, the labor market is extremely tight in the United States right now; the unemployment rate was at 3.7 percent in November. Amazon’s employees are also part of a wider renewed interest in unionizing among some workers, particularly millennials, says Milkman. “That was also a factor in the wave of teachers’ strikes earlier this year, and in recent unionization drives among adjunct faculty and graduate students,” she says. Hundreds of Columbia University teaching and research assistants went on strike in August, for example. Milkman added that many online publications have also recently unionized.
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Amazon.com, Inc., doing business as Amazon (/ˈæməˌzɒn/), is an American electronic commerce, cloud computing, and consumer electronics company based in Seattle, Washington, that was founded by Jeff Bezos on July 5, 1994. The tech giant is the largest Internet retailer in the world as measured by revenue and market capitalization, and second largest after Alibaba Group in terms of total sales. The Amazon.com website started as an online bookstore and later diversified to sell video downloads/streaming, MP3 downloads/streaming, audiobook downloads/streaming, software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys, and jewelry. The company also owns a publishing arm, Amazon Publishing, a film and television studio, Amazon Studios, produces consumer electronics lines including Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, Fire TV, and Echo devices, and is the world's largest provider of cloud infrastructure services (IaaS and PaaS) through its AWS subsidiary. Amazon also sells certain low-end products under its in-house brand AmazonBasics.