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Thread: Amazon Air Pilots Threaten Walk Out Over Low Wages

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    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Amazon Air Pilots Threaten Walk Out Over Low Wages

    First, a brief introduction as to why I think this matters, which I hope you will read:

    E-commerce is about to overtake bricks and mortar retail in a massive way, IMO. This shift will alter the work lives of millions of Americans, most of whom will be extremely low-paid and have no hope of exerting any power in their relationship to their employer. The chief architect of this Brave New World -- which, to be fair, offers many exciting advances to consumers -- is Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose extraordinary skill at leaping forward has moved Amazon from the bookshelves to the living rooms of virtually every home in America, posing a real threat to the continued survival of the behemoth Walmarts and the like.

    So, it is worth noticing how Bezos views his employees, and to date, he appears to view them as livestock. Amazon has such a horrible reputation as to conditions imposed on its distribution center employees, it has been suggested the US Dept. of Labor needs to look into matters there. Employees are "chipped" with GPS devices at work, and every step they take -- including bathroom breaks -- is recorded. News reports suggest some have had to leave their jobs due to mental health issues because of the constant demand for faster work and intense supervision. Altogether, not a workplace built by a warm, cuddly humanitarian, by any means.

    Likewise, Amazon has been the subject of thousands of small business owner complaints as to its predatory pricing practices. The electronic platform allows it to offer virtually any commodity on earth for sale to its customers at no cost apart from the coding to its portal. If the customer interest is high enough, Amazon will demand the business sell through Amazon, at prices Amazon sets, or it will find a similar product elsewhere. In many, many cases, this costs the business its entire profit, driving it under. Bookstores were killed off in this manner by Amazon, but now clothing manufacturers, household goods makers, etc. -- virtually any business Amazon might source from -- are likewise feeling this pressure. The competition is thought to have been the death knell of Kmart, Sears, etc. as bricks and mortar stores, and is expected to do likewise to Walmarts.

    IOW, literally no business in retail in America has the market power now to push back against Amazon, and yet, there has to date been not one anti-trust case filed against that company by the FTC. That could be in part because there are gaps between existing anti-trust law (written more or less to address the problems of monopoly power in 19th century America) are not entirely adequate to fight a e-commerce business as horizontally and vertically integrated as Amazon is.


    And now this, FFS:

    When Mike Griffith, a career pilot, learned last year that his company Atlas Air signed a big contract to fly for Amazon's Prime Air program, he was ecstatic to take part in what he believed to be the future of logistics.

    Twelve months later, Griffith's excitement has turned to angst. Dozens of his colleagues have fled for higher pay and better benefits elsewhere, whether cargo operations like UPS or commercial airlines like Delta.

    Griffith, 52, is so concerned about his company's ability to hold up its end of the Amazon deal that he's heading to Seattle for its shareholders meeting on Tuesday. Griffith will be picketing along with about 50 other pilots from Atlas and air cargo conglomerate Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), which also has a contract with Amazon.

    "Shareholders are being sold a bill of goods by vendors saying that they can bring in labor at below-market rates and make it successful," Griffith said in an interview on Friday from his home in Los Angeles. "We're seeing record attrition."

    Griffith said that a report released internally showed that Atlas lost 92 pilots in the first four months of the year, double the number it lost in all of 2016.


    *Snip*

    Amazon investors have reason to care. The company is trying to build out an end-to-end supply chain to control every aspect of freight delivery and storage as it aims to provide even faster service to Prime members. As Amazon sees it, Prime Air will eventually mean drone delivery to your door.

    For now, it's about airplanes. Last year, Amazon agreed to lease 20 planes each, including crew, maintenance and insurance, from Atlas and ATSG, with operations expected to be fully up and running by 2018.

    Additionally, Amazon acquired warrants to buy up to 20 percent of each carrier over a five-year period. As of Friday's close, 20 percent of the two companies had a total value of $516 million. At Atlas, the stake could eventually increase to 30 percent.

    The pilots are taking the case straight to Amazon, because they say their own executives won't talk to them and contract negotiations are at a standstill. They want Jeff Bezos to use his clout to put pressure on the carriers before it's too late.

    *Snip*

    An Atlas spokeswoman said in an email that the company is meeting all of its customer commitments and will continue to do so. The company had 1,700 pilots at the end of 2016, an increase of 600 over a two-year span. In complaining about employee churn, the pilots and union are attempting to pressure the company in contract negotiations, she said.

    "We remain committed to negotiating a competitive, single-collective-bargaining agreement in accordance with the terms of our existing labor agreements, which recognizes our pilots' valued contributions," she said.

    An ATSG representative said the company's airlines have "had no attrition issues, nor have they had a problem attracting new hires." All but two of the aircraft in the Amazon contract have been delivered and the other two are scheduled in coming months.

    "We have complete confidence in our ability to fulfill the terms of our contracts," the spokesman said.

    According to the letter from the Teamsters to Amazon, Atlas and ATSG pay their pilots 50 to 60 percent below the prevailing market rate. On top of that, Griffith said his employer has no retirement benefits apart from a basic 401(k) plan.

    While cost-cutting was the name of the game for many years, the trend has changed now that carriers are facing a severe pilot shortage. Delta agreed to give its pilots a 30 percent raise by 2019, and American Airlines said last month that pilots are being offered 8 percent midcontract raises. United also bolstered its pay.

    The industry has an even bigger shortage problem ahead. The Teamsters' letter to Amazon said that 35 percent of current U.S. pilots are likely to retire over the next 10 years and that demand will outstrip supply by up to 15 percent. Amazon is currently partnering with companies on the wrong side of the market, the letter said.

    *Snip*

    An Amazon spokesman said that while questions about the working environments of particular partners are best answered by them, "we are pleased with our partners' performance and their continued ability to scale for our customers."
    Amazon Prime Air pilots to protest at shareholders meeting

    Anyone else think driving down skilled labor costs by 50 to 60% and refusing to offer any retirement benefits at all might not be a trend we want to see proliferate across America?

    Personally, I find this terrifying.

    Your thoughts?
    Last edited by Madeline; 22nd May 2017 at 06:59 AM.
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    Veteran Member bajisima's Avatar
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    It is terrifying and most refuse to believe it will happen. They always cite the old blacksmith meme when the car was invented. But this has never happened before. It will likely be unprecedented. A friend of ours works at Kiva who makes the robots at Amazon warehouses and their specs actually intend to do away with as many humans as possible eventually. They were told "robots don't complain." Its pretty scary and it is going to force a sort of guaranteed basic income as what will we do with all these people?
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    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bajisima View Post
    It is terrifying and most refuse to believe it will happen. They always cite the old blacksmith meme when the car was invented. But this has never happened before. It will likely be unprecedented. A friend of ours works at Kiva who makes the robots at Amazon warehouses and their specs actually intend to do away with as many humans as possible eventually. They were told "robots don't complain." Its pretty scary and it is going to force a sort of guaranteed basic income as what will we do with all these people?
    That's certainly an urgently-needed discussion. The potential scope of this is staggering. Amazon could kill the freight train industry in most of America, as their profit margins are already paper-thin. Interstate trucking would likewise be affected, in who knows which way, and if all goods consumed in America are distributed from only 3 or 4 mega-warehouses, what does that do to our infrastructure, or customs, or even our population migration patterns?

    There is literally almost nothing Amazon could not sell, and Bezos thinks they should sell everything they can.
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    Veteran Member Southern Dad's Avatar
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    Many tasks will be done by robots. I do not blame Amazon from trying to run their facilities with as few hourly workers as possible. They are right, robots don't complain or attempt to unionize. They won't spend all day on the cell phone and they don't steal from the company. What party does Jeff Bezos support again? Oh right, the Democrats. Damn, I bet you all didn't see that one coming.

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    Veteran Member bajisima's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madeline View Post
    That's certainly an urgently-needed discussion. The potential scope of this is staggering. Amazon could kill the freight train industry in most of America, as their profit margins are already paper-thin. Interstate trucking would likewise be affected, in who knows which way, and if all goods consumed in America are distributed from only 3 or 4 mega-warehouses, what does that do to our infrastructure, or customs, or even our population migration patterns?

    There is literally almost nothing Amazon could not sell, and Bezos thinks they should sell everything they can.
    The other problem is that if others see Amazon doing well they will be forced to do so as well. Copycat sort of thing. We already see it locally with retail closings. People still like to physically go shop but when they buy they go home and do it online. Another point nobody discusses is that it will be women hurt the hardest by all this as they work the most in retail and are less likely to want to become plumbers, carpenters and electricians. Where will they go?
    Thanks from Madeline and chaos

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    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bajisima View Post
    The other problem is that if others see Amazon doing well they will be forced to do so as well. Copycat sort of thing. We already see it locally with retail closings. People still like to physically go shop but when they buy they go home and do it online. Another point nobody discusses is that it will be women hurt the hardest by all this as they work the most in retail and are less likely to want to become plumbers, carpenters and electricians. Where will they go?
    No more grocery shopping, unless you are too poor to afford internet access.

    Imagine that.
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    Veteran Member bajisima's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madeline View Post
    No more grocery shopping, unless you are too poor to afford internet access.

    Imagine that.
    My favorite things is when our internet access goes down and we call the company, they say it will be back in a few days. They don't realize how schools do homework now this way. It isn't a luxury anymore, in fact I am not sure it should be considered a utility. Its definitely become a necessity these days.
    Thanks from Southern Dad and Madeline

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    I retired back in July 2016. I have several pensions, am collecting SSI, am on Medicare with supplements and I have investment funds and real estate investments to supplement my pensions. I'm doing just fine. But my advice to those still in the workforce, especially younger people, is don't depend on your employer to protect your financial future. You must save on your own and invest for your future.

    Cheers,

    Bourne
    Thanks from Southern Dad and Madeline

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    Veteran Member bajisima's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bourne View Post
    I retired back in July 2016. I have several pensions, am collecting SSI, am on Medicare with supplements and I have investment funds and real estate investments to supplement my pensions. I'm doing just fine. But my advice to those still in the workforce, especially younger people, is don't depend on your employer to protect your financial future. You must save on your own and invest for your future.

    Cheers,

    Bourne
    Good luck with that.

    "Nearly six in 10 Americans don't have enough savings to cover a $500 or $1,000 unplanned expense, according to a new report from Bankrate."

    Majority of Americans don't have $500 in savings - Jan. 12, 2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bourne View Post
    I retired back in July 2016. I have several pensions, am collecting SSI, am on Medicare with supplements and I have investment funds and real estate investments to supplement my pensions. I'm doing just fine. But my advice to those still in the workforce, especially younger people, is don't depend on your employer to protect your financial future. You must save on your own and invest for your future.

    Cheers,

    Bourne
    Very good advice.

    I have already covered my retirement, now I just don't give a shit, its play time. When I do retire I will be on my boat and probably die in a storm somewhere but I will go out with two middle fingers held up.

    Preparation is key to everything.
    Thanks from Bourne, Southern Dad and Madeline

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