Opinion: Amazon workers win the fight for $15, but the war is not nearly over

Ben Hume, Staff Reporter

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The trillion dollar company, Amazon, declared on Tuesday, Oct. 2 that it would be raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour. Senator Bernie Sanders is famous for championing the cause in 2015, but his support came almost three years after the first strikes began.

Now, it might appear that the war is turning in favor of the working class, but there’s far more evidence to show that this is just a publicity stunt to remove some blame from Amazon for poor work practices in the past.

This scrutiny only really first began in 2015, when an article in the New York Times detailed the taxing work environment that workers are put through every day. The article brought to light many business techniques that are reminiscent of early industrial practices in the United States, including firing injured workers, not allowing bathroom breaks and unsafe working conditions.

The New York Times article cited that “[s]ome workers who suffered from cancer, miscarriages and other personal crises said they had been evaluated unfairly or edged out rather than given time to recover,” a belief opposed by Amazon’s top recruiter Susan Harker, who told the New York Times that “when you’re shooting for the moon, the nature of the work is really challenging. For some people it doesn’t work.”

This level of worker manipulation is exactly what government business regulations were created for, and the only thing that finally made one of the largest companies in the world give its workers a living wage was poor public opinion.

So now Amazon wishes to increase its minimum wage far above the national minimum, which is giving Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a lot of credit on the national scene. But in actuality, the $15 wage is not a ridiculous increase.

According to a Pew Research Center study that investigated many facts about the national minimum wage, if you account for inflation, the minimum wage actually peaked in 1968. Since then, it has actually decreased in terms of spending power. The idea that this wage increase is a radical change is not entirely true, and Amazon should have no problem accounting for this increase in spending they have more than enough money to save their bottom line.

Now Bezos looks to better the working conditions of his workers, but as shown, the poor minimum wage is only one of many problems with Amazon’s business decisions. There are many loopholes that Amazon is still manipulating, some of them even having to do with the new minimum wages. For instance, employees and temporary workers might benefit from $15 wages, but contract workers receive no such guarantee. And there is no indication that the overworking and manipulation will cease.

Those believing this is the pinnacle of the working class’s efforts for equality, scared of some kind of socialist revolution or the return of the red scare, should know that this is not even close to the treatment workers should be receiving. These workers are the backbone of our society. And these workers need more than financial support—they need the right to live.