© 2024 KOSU
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Prime Effect: The Faces Of Amazon's Workforce

Workers protest against the failure to provide adequate protections, in May. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
Workers protest against the failure to provide adequate protections, in May. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

Amazon employs 1.2 million people around the world. Tyler Hamilton is one of them.

“Amazon’s business model is built off of chewing people up and spitting them out,” he says.

Hamilton worked in a Minnesota fulfillment center. He says it’s hard work, with near constant turnover.

“Amazon doesn’t succeed just because it’s terrible to its workers,” he says. “Amazon succeeds because it’s a completely new business model. It’s basically taking retail and industrializing it. And no one has the infrastructure to compete. So you don’t need to mistreat your workers to succeed.”

Amazon’s corporate culture is a different animal. Dave Glick is a former Amazon VP.

“They’re very clear about what people need to be successful at Amazon,” he says. “Those things often translate to what you need to be successful outside of Amazon as well.”

Today, On Point: Our series “The Prime Effect” continues with a look at Amazon’s labor force, and how, someday, it could be changing how you work.


Karen Weise, New York Times technology correspondent based in Seattle covering Amazon, Microsoft and the region’s tech scene. (@KYWeise)

David Glick, Chief Technology Officer at Flexe. He worked at Amazon from 1998 to 2018, including as Vice President of Transportation and Fulfillment Technologies.

Also Featured

Ardine Williams, Vice President of Workforce Development at Amazon. (@ardine_williams)

Maren Costa, former Amazon UX designer who worked at Amazon for 15 years. She was fired in 2020 for publicly speaking out about Amazon’s climate impact. (@marencosta)

Tyler Hamilton, Amazon fulfillment center worker in Minnesota.

From The Reading List

Washington Post: “Amazon launches workplace-safety pledge, acknowledges it ‘has work to do’” — “Amazon plans to spend $12 million to launch a new workplace-safety initiative with the National Safety Council, addressing a warehouse-injury rate that surpasses that of its rivals.”

Boston Review: “Amazon after Bessemer” — “Before the dust could even settle in Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon went in for the kill. Just a few hours after the widely covered union drive failed on April 9, an Amazon-sponsored coalition of major tech companies put out a press release calling the outcome a ‘progressive success story.'”

New York Times: “The Amazon That Customers Don’t See” — “When the coronavirus shut down New York last spring, many residents came to rely on a colossal building they had never heard of: JFK8, Amazon’s only fulfillment center in America’s largest city.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

KOSU is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.
Related Content