Sunday, May 27, 2012

add amazin' Amazon to no-shop list

I've been thinking about developing a "no shop" list with, wherever possible, realistic alternatives for precarious academic workers ~ curating a worst workplaces list instead of leaving them scattered them across posts and mailing lists. There arealso "ethical shopping" and "consumer ethics" websites, but this would  focus on contingent labor employment and workplace practices. As one article about warehousing pointed out, employees are not paid well enough to shop ethically outside this system. The same is true for many adjuncts, which makes calling for a boycott unrealistic (even if we were well enough organized to do it). Instead, start with raising awareness and recommending. Training wheels for the real thing someday. 

We talk about asking education consumers (parents, students) and involved agencies/ institutions (funding, accrediting, regulating, evaluating, overseeing) to make contingent faculty policies and numbers factors in making decisions. Let's consider practicing what we preach. To second Amazon's nomination to our "no shop" list, here's Paul Haeder's report from the Amazon shareholders meeting in Seattle

Just wanting you all to know that several faculty were at the shareholders meeting in Seattle. Many were ready to take arrests. I was there, helping with organize and speaking. I also have been writing on the Amazon case, if you don't already know that. However, it is important to tie into Jeff Bezos (he was there, and he is really vapid in so many ways, and patronizing and not there emotionally) and his company's ethos -- they want to monopolize all sales, all book publishing realms, everything. They are treating their warehouse employees poorly, and he loves recruiting from the ranks of the ex-military. He is happy to start a 60-hour work week movement.  

His company is elitist: neither he nor Amazon really believe in public education or the value of community-directed governance. His talk today was pathetic, although he did announce stepping out of the manure of ALEC -- American Legislative Exchange Council (double-speak). 

Two huge votes on more transparency of where Amazon spends its political and other monies and another one from Calvert on getting Amazon to get into carbon tracking, carbon reductions, climate change initiative. Both of those did not pass, based on shares as the voting method. 65 million for climate change, 240 million against; 54 million for transparency, 239 million against with abstaining votes of 60 and 70 million respectively.

The point is that several college students were there, spoke out, tied Amazon's 2.5 percent corporate tax smile to the cuts in education and gutting of a young force of people in the Seattle area willing to make Seattle home, community, a place of common interests, and where they might get a decent job, but first, a decent education. These community college students risked arrest, were dragged off, but dumped outside with the 150 people protesting this goofy shareholders' meeting. 

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