On Sunday, March 6, Prince George's DSA labor working group, joined by members from Baltimore and Montgomery County DSA, hosted a meeting addressed by activists who are part of Amazonians United — an organization building community and workplace power at various locations across the country, including in Maryland.
The presentation began with a description of Amazon’s immensity. This corporate behemoth — like robber barons of old — developed an engulf-and-devour business methodology that enabled it to build monopoly power through continuous expansion. Such a strategy means using others’ troubles as an opportunity for gain. As such, the pandemic has been golden for Amazon, tripling its already bloated wealth, enabling owner Jeff Bezos to become the world's richest person, and further cementing its power in the global supply chain.
Corporate growth via the opportunity presented by society’s misfortune is nothing new — and it is not surprising that Amazon’s increased wealth has not filtered back to its workforce. The presenting activists gave us a good picture of working life at Amazon: stress, speed-up and constant monitoring at pay insufficient by itself to provide a decent standard of living, which compels some Amazon workers to take a second job.
So how do workers fight back? The answer lies in building worker power on the job — from what these activists said, their coworkers understand the injustice of Amazon’s policies and the need for organization. We will continue to look for ways to support these efforts, inside and outside the workplace.
Our meeting also included a brief report on the PRO Act — the proposed labor law reform bill that would remove many of the existing barriers for union organizing and also strengthen the ability of unions, once organized, to strike and act in solidarity with other workers. The presentation was put forward by a member of Prince George’s DSA’s ecosocialism working group — reflecting the understanding that we need the strength provided by passage of the PRO Act to effectively fight for passage of the Green New Deal.
We will continue the discussion of the PRO Act and Green New Deal at our next meeting, in addition to hearing about worker organizing at University of Maryland in College Park, likely as part of the work of Metro DC DSA’s Labor Task Force.
Those looking to get involved, especially those ready to take the plunge as “roots” building workplace power, should contact Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will continue to do what we can to act in solidarity going forward.