Between September, 2010 and September 2011, I spent $1,042 buying books from Amazon.com. Since October, I have spent $0 there. As I describe today in the Nation online, I stopped clicking on Amazon after reading this terrific story by Spencer Soper describing Amazon’s poor labor practices at a facility near Allentown Pennsylvania.
Incidentally, I encountered this story this because Ezra Klein wrote a column that linked to it. Yet Soper’s account highlights the irreplaceable value of strong local news coverage. National reporters can’t track conditions in some nondescript warehouse in the Lehigh valley. Barbie and Ken local TV newscasters generally can’t dig out these stories, either, or document them with the required depth.
I found this story particularly disturbing because Amazon doesn’t have to behave this way. It’s not some marginal lettuce grower or local restaurant that must squeeze its workers to survive. This is a thriving high-tech company with a commanding market position and booming sales. I’ll come back to Amazon.com when it demonstrates that it is treating its workers better. Until then, I prefer to take my business elsewhere. You should too.