Yes, that’s just as bad as it sounds. Amazon couriers can receive a measly five bucks if customers tell Alexa to “thank my driver.” For a company that continues to come under serious scrutiny for employee treatment, this couldn’t come across worse. Furthermore, it’s a flimsy incentive for workers to compete with one another. The first five employees with the most thank yous receive a $20,000 prize. Half is donated to a selected charity. And only the first one million drivers are awarded $5.
Of course, knowing it’s a promotion to celebrate the milestone of 15 billion delivered parcels says enough. If it looks like a corporate ploy and sounds like a corporate ploy. But Beryl Tomay, VP of Last Mile Delivery at Amazon, would have you believe it’s all about the workers. “For drivers, it’s more than just the packages that they deliver — they form relationships with customers, provide support to the community in tough moments, and sometimes play the role of the unexpected hero.”
Heroes Deserve Respect And Fair Treatment, Last We Checked
Pity that these “heroes” are strangely ill-valued by the company that employs them. Almost all couriers contracted earn $18 – 25 an hour. Substandard pay for working long, late hours and often putting themselves in danger. According to a VICE report, drivers are still peeing in bottles due to insufficient break times, and even losing their lives to deliver packages from a company that loves to pretend they care.
They’ve even denied a driver Amazon-branded apparel to reassure citizens in crime-heavy neighborhoods that they’re getting a package and not a burglar. Amazon’s answer? No company clothes until a month in. They’ll just have to deal with being threatened with firearms or mauled to death simply trying to drop off a package. Let’s not also forget that Amazon spent $4.3 million dollars on union-busting consultants last year.
The ratio of inflation to income is horrifically off-balance. Five dollars is a drop in a massive ocean of barely attainable necessity. If you happen to have an Alexa unit, you could maybe make a courier’s life microscopically better. Still, “better than nothing” shouldn’t be the accepted mantra towards employment rights and pay.