A former Amazon worker myself, I’m thrilled by the news that JFK8 has unionized! But are we ready in Arizona to take on the challenge of getting better working conditions for AMZ workers? Hell yes we are!
I worked at PHX7 a few years back and I’d love nothing more than seeing that god awful place organized for the benefit of those making Amazon billions. Overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated; unionizing is what those workers deserve. But are we ready for the long haul? Are we ready for the mind games and manipulation? Arizona Wobblies say, affirmatively: Hell yes!!! Bring it on!!!!
A valiant organizing effort has been taking place at FCs in the Valley for many years. An IWW friend and supporter was in the belly of the beast stirring up resistance to the conglomerate. The inhumane treatment of workers hit a boiling point with the rise of the pandemic, and they were in the midst of it, pushing workers to not take it lying down. Like many organizers, they were eventually singled out and given the boot. IWW members all over the state remember and respect these efforts by our labor radical compas on the inside. And we are building upon that foundation.
“I worked at Amazon for ten years, built up a worker movement and resistance network. Organized a few walkouts and sit downs. I was really good at calling out their number and wage manipulation. I’m really proud of Chris [Smalls] for taking on this kind of public role. That’s not easy.”
I spoke with “Lux Ferro” about the critical importance Arizona plays in the Amazon supply chain and the immense potential for labor reform we have here in the Arizona-Sonora desert. We’re not just a burning hot sauna, we’re a critical artery in Amazon’s monopoly!
“What AZ Amazon workers need to know,” Lux continued, “is that we are a make-it or break-it state on so many levels. The Sun Corridor [the Arizona-Sonora desert from Prescott through Nogales] is a mega-region designed for decades to accommodate specific supply chain mechanisms. Zoning for warehouses and freeways were key components for US corporations under NAFTA. Amazon has been expertly embedding itself at the heart of this design and has managed to find a way to exploit it for it’s own gain and to the detriment of it’s workers.”
Arizona’s mild winter and easily-paved-over desert has made us a playground for capitalists of every flavor. Our lack of inclement weather opened the doors for middle-man logistics. In other words, we’re Disneyland for year-round worker exploitation.
“They’re taking advantage of Arizona’s mild seasonality and forcing worker compliance by controlling temp companies and strategically using automation to facilitate attrition. People are desperate for work and Amazon is constantly chopping heads and filling those positions with cheaper labor.”
The pandemic was a blessing for Amazon and a curse for everyday workin’ folks in dire need of basic necessities. Class divisions between those able to work from home and those unable to have reached a fevered pitch and Amazon workers have gotten the raw end of the deal. Strategic resistance is our only option.
“Arizona has the ability to not only fight for a union but to also set the tone for reforming labor law. The Wagner Act didn’t see the internet, algorithms or Amazon’s PPA or ADAPT [AMZ’s automated monitoring/managing systems]. These systems don’t factor in leadership or shift errors, they just punish or fire workers without any human considerations. We need a digital bill of rights. We need workers to understand that automation can be used to lift us up instead of further dehumanizing us,” argues Ferro.
I love this sort of broad, systemic thinking. But, we connect with one another as humans and as workers on a personal level.
Ferro continues, “Collectivize you’re resistance. Look for battles that can be won together. Don’t let each other get lost on the pack lines and the docks. Get to know workers in your area off the clock in labor-friendly environments. No resistance is too small.”
Useful words of wisdom. Understanding methods and experiences of all organizers and workers is an important feature of IWW organizing. The broader our picture, the more empathetic and, thereby, effective we become. Listening is essential for organizing; it’s how we remember we’re all in the same boat together.
The flames of resistance are still burning throughout Amazon warehouses in Arizona, and the IWW will continue to stoke the fire as long as the Class War continues. Amazonians and workin’ folks in Arizona stand in a position to give a clear demand to our rotten capitalist overlords: The supply chain runs on our stolen time, our coerced labor, and our demolished desert, but we the workers will be calling the shots soon enough!
A massive hub of commerce. A concrete jungle of warehouses. And asphalt tentacles spreading as far as the eye can see. As Fellow Worker “Lux Ferro” put it, “That’s power that just has to get tapped into with precise intentionality.”