Amazon is one of the largest technology companies in the world and focuses on e-commerce, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence. According to Frontline and Cision, the brand has been recognized as “one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world” and “the world’s most valuable brand.” However, despite Jeff Bezos’ (CEO of Amazon) best efforts to win customers over with its Amazon Prime benefits and endless categories of products, the brand has received negative media attention over its unethical labor violations, from forcing workers to skip bathroom breaks to tracking warehouse workers’ every movement. Reports by the Washington Post show that severe workplace injuries are more common at Amazon than any other firm, and the Guardian reports comments from Amazon factory workers complaining about “grueling and unsafe conditions.”
Serious labor violations have significantly affected consumer perception of the Amazon brand and have reduced engagement with the brand over the past years. Internally, workers have been striking the company for years over its unsafe working conditions and low wages. Externally, Amazon shoppers have been known for striking one of Amazon’s largest revenue drivers, ‘Prime Day.’ Many consumers have also turned their back to Amazon for more ethical alternatives like Shopify, which is well known to support small and medium-sized businesses, compared to Amazon, which seemingly attempts to engulf mom-and-pop shops. One of the biggest implications of these strikes by workers and Amazon shoppers is a reduced workforce; most recently, Amazon had to settle a complaint at a Chicago facility over COVID-19 safety. It’s integral for the brand to settle these quickly because strikes can reduce factory-wide production and impact its brand outlook by local (as well as international) Amazon shoppers.
Amazon could have implemented changes in its policies and factory conditions surrounding factory workers to receive more positive brand resonance and actually receive praise from the general public and media outlets, compared to the negative attention they’re receiving. The brand could have provided its warehouse workers with more equally distributed pay, provide bathroom breaks without monitoring its workers, and offer adequate employment benefits. Fortunately, Amazon finally provides a $15/hour minimum wage, but it took years of tireless work by its employees, strikes, and lawsuits to get the company to pay its workers a living wage.