Amazon, which has a pattern of cruelly exploiting workers, has just become the second American company to top $1 trillion in market value.
CNN reported that Amazon surpassed the trillion-dollar mark on Tuesday, after tech giant Apple hit the $1 trillion milestone last month. Amazon increased its market value to $1 trillion in September despite being worth just $580 billion at the beginning of the year. To put that figure in context, CNN pointed out that in order to get to $1 trillion in market value, one would have to combine the 2017 revenues of the 14 largest big-box retail stores, from Walmart all the way down to Autonation.
Amazon owner Jeff Bezos has been the largest beneficiary of the company’s record-shattering growth. Earlier this year, Bezos saw his own personal net worth (much of which is tied to his 78.88 million shares of Amazon stock) increase by $1 billion in just 48 hours. Bezos’ $23 million, 27,000 square-foot mansion in Washington, DC — which is currently undergoing a $12 million renovation — has 25 bathrooms.
However, the bulk of the company’s warehouse workers haven’t fared as well from Amazon’s success. A report from the nonprofit organization New Food Economy found that, as of August 2018, one in three Amazon workers in Arizona were on food stamps, and roughly one in ten Amazon warehouse workers in Pennsylvania and Ohio were on food stamps. In other states New Food Economy obtained data for (Kansas, and Washington state, where the company is based), Amazon was one of the top 20 employers of food stamp recipients, meaning a large percentage of their workers made so little that they qualified for public assistance.
Even outside of the U.S., Bezos’ company has a pattern of exploiting workers. An undercover author in the United Kingdom found that inside of one Amazon warehouse, workers urinated in bottles because the bathrooms were several hundred yards away, and employees didn’t want to risk the ire of management for taking too long to go to the bathroom.
“For those of us who worked on the top floor, the closest toilets were down four flights of stairs,” author James Bloodworth told the Sun. “People just peed in bottles because they lived in fear of being disciplined over ‘idle time’ and losing their jobs just because they needed the loo.”
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.