Day 1 is Amazon lingo for “staying hungry, making bold decisions and never forgetting about the customer,” and this mentality has been good for business, Amazon’s shoppers and shareholders. However, employees are less than thrilled, and many of the company’s warehouse workers are voicing concerns that their employer is pushing them past their limits in the midst of a global pandemic.
In order to successfully maintain Day 1, Amazon has to lower labor costs and increase productivity, which means that it closes watches every minute that each employee is on the clock. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, wrote in a 2016 shareholder letter, “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”
After years of maintaining a policy of out-of-sight, out-of-mind, Amazon’s employment issues related to Day 1 are now becoming more visible. In Bessemer, Alabama, workers have voted on whether to form a union, and if this idea gains traction, it will be the first union in Amazon’s history. Due to the increased need for home deliveries during COVID-19, the company is now the second-largest private employer in the U.S., and in Bessemer, many of the pro-union workers are Black, which makes it a civil rights issue as well.
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