World’s richest man cuts health benefits workers Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

World’s richest man cuts health benefits for workers—and 15 more cruel moves by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

  • 07/28/2020 9:11 am ET Dara Brewton and Sabrina Matthews
A caricature of Jeff Bezos with a giant goofy head.

Flickr / DonkeyHotey

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, may also be the most selfish one.

With a net worth estimated over $178 billion, Bezos can afford to share the wealth, but he doesn’t do it very often. For scale, if he gave everyone living in the US 500 bucks, he would still have $13 billion left over for fast cars and toupees. But that’s not Mr. Amazon’s style.

Amazon brought in over $230 billion in 2019. As his company continues to grow during the pandemic, some have projected Bezos will be a trillionaire in a few years. But even with this platinum class job security, he still cuts health benefits for Whole Foods workers, and we just learned Amazon has been scamming start ups.

Now that Bezos is testifying in front of Congress, it’s worth reviewing some of the terrible things he’s done.

1. Alleged theft of intellectual property by Amazon.

Photo of computer internal hardware

Canva

Jeff Bezos’s testimony to congress is part of investigations into Amazon business practices. The tech giant does invest in companies that develop technologies parallel to its own. But they usually make that money back, either through partnering with the smaller company or buying it outright. In a recent case, Amazon may have just taken companies’ ideas and run with them.

In meetings to negotiate investments by Amazon, companies will divulge information about their products and financials. If Amazon partners with these companies, they get even more proprietary information. While there have been mutually beneficial relationships, there are plenty of cases where a startup found Amazon seems to have used the information to develop a competing product, or to pilfer their customer base. Amazon has settled out of court with some companies, while others continue to claim that Amazon boosted enough of their data to run them out of business.

“They are using market forces in a really Machiavellian way,” venture-capital partner Jeremy Levine told the Wall Street Journal. “They are a wolf in wolf’s clothing.”

2. Attacks small book publishers.

Stack of books on a wooden table

Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon

This is not the first time Amazon has entered a grey area of business competition. Amazon, as Jeff Bezos’s original company, was a bookseller, and plenty of publishers were interested in Amazon when it first started out. But little did they know what experiences they would have.

Bezos apparently loathed them so much that he told his executives to “approach these small publishers the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle.”

They abused publishers to the point that Amazon’s lawyers had to calm Amazon execs down and change the program into something more corporate-friendly.

3. Amazon destroys mom and pop shops.

Man standing in a mechanic's shop

Unsplash/Alev Takil

Amazon’s strategy has taken a toll on Mom and Pop stores. Bezos has jacked up prices and reduced the quality of goods just for the sheer convenience of his sales.

With a continually growing number of products, Amazon and Jeff Bezos aim to take out thriving businesses like auto shops, grocery stores, and postal services.

This could eliminate a ton of jobs, for the sake of his growth.

4. Amazon and Jeff Bezos hurt the USPS.

Close up photo of a mailbox

Canva

Before the USPS fell on its current troubles at the hands of Trump and his new Postmaster General, the Post Office had already been driven into hard times by companies like Amazon. As online retailers ‘cherry pick,’ using their own drivers to deliver packages in the densest ZIP codes, but still having the Post Office deliver their packages in areas where addresses are further apart.

Addresses in dense cities are relatively inexpensive delivery jobs. But the Post Office is also responsible for the remote, rural addresses, which are the most costly to manage. For most of its 245-year history, the Postal Service has balanced its budget by using the relative profitability of urban areas to offset the costly service to rural areas.

5. Jeff Bezos ignored the fire in the ACTUAL Amazon.

A photo of a forest fire

Unsplash

In the summer of 2019, the world watched in horror as the Amazon rainforest turned to ash as acres were burned up in fires by the second.

People around the world were looking for ways to help…except Bezos. Not a peep came from the world’s richest man who also happened to name his company after the very rainforest that was on fire. It was a fact that did not go unnoticed by Star Trek’s George Takei:

6. Threw pennies at the Australian wildfires.

News footage of Australian bushfire

Screenshot / YouTube

When Australia went up in flames a short time later, Bezos did pony up a bit of cash for the relief efforts. Perhaps he was worried about incurring the wrath of George Takei twice in such a short time. The CEO gave a million Australian dollars — roughly $690,000 USD. Nothing says dedication to a cause like forking over 0.0004% of your net worth.

To put it in perspective, the heavy metal band Metallica donated $750,000 to help fight the Australian fires which was $60,000 more than Bezos coughed up. Metallica’s net worth clocks in at paltry $830 million.

7. Jeff Bezos cut health benefits for 1,900 Whole Foods Workers.

A Whole Foods market

Source / Wikimedia

Amazon bought the grocery store chain Whole Foods in 2017, but in the fall of 2019, Bezos decided he didn’t really want to pay for the part-time employees’ health benefits anymore — cutting 1,900 people off of their insurance plans.

The decision to kick employees off of their health care plans was made to “better meet the needs of our business and create a more equitable and efficient scheduling model.”

8. Made employees fight against each other.

Smart phone with an angry emoji on the screen

Canva

Even inside of the company there is fierce and unhealthy competition. According to the New York Times, Bezos had developed a different type of management style. He encourages employees to lash out at each others’ ideas…in meetings.

He has also incorporated a system called the Anytime Feedback Tool, which is used to tell on fellow co-workers and also give secret feedback to their bosses.

9. Benefited from an employee death cover-up.

Man on a Hyster in an Amazon warehouse

Source / Pixabay

A Plainfield, Indiana Amazon worker was killed by a forklift in 2017, and Amazon was found to be at fault.

The company was cited for four safety violations and was given a fine of $28,000. But “state labor officials quietly absolved Amazon of responsibility” when Governor Eric Holcomb was trying to lure Bezos’s HQ2 to Indiana.

10. Amazon required 60-hour work weeks.

Amazon box with a sign on top that says Black Friday

Flickr / Marco Verch

All workers tied to the retail world see their hours go up during the holiday season. Workers in Amazon warehouses get stuck with mandatory 60-hour workweeks.

During peak season, Amazon workers are often expected to put in six 10-hour shifts per week.

11. Let employees pay taxes to him.

Income tax form

Source / Pexels

Bezos is the king of getting sweet tax deals from the cities that he chooses to grace with his presence.

He was even offered a deal in Chicago that would have his employees paying income taxes to Amazon to the tune of $1.32 billion.

“Called a personal income-tax diversion, the workers must still pay the full taxes, but instead of the state getting the money to use for schools, roads or whatever, Amazon would get to keep it all instead.”

12. Jeff Bezos tried to buy the Seattle City Council.

Skyline photo of Seattle, Washington

Source / Pixabay

When it comes to taxes, Amazon attacks that from both sides. Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant thinks Amazon and other Seattle-based corporations should pay their fair share of the city’s taxes.

So Bezos attempted to thwart Sawant’s re-election by pouring $1.5 million into her opponent’s campaign. Amazon’s attempt to buy the election was unsuccessful, however.

13. The Amazon HQ2 debacle.

A robot created out of Amazon boxes

Unsplash/Daniel Eledut

Not content to mess with Seattle’s politics, in the battle to get the next headquarters for Amazon, Jeff Bezos pitted many cities against each other to open up Amazon’s HQ2.

Many called for action as they were going to face an easy tax break. Luckily, NYC was able to escape the potential madness with the help of AOC:

“Amazon is coming to NYC anyway – *without* requiring the public to finance shady deals, helipad handouts for Jeff Bezos, & corporate giveaways.”

14. Jeff Bezos insults his employees.

Man yelling into a telephone

Source: Unsplash/Icons8 Team

According to author Brad Stone, in his book The Everything Store, Bezos has a tendency to lose it on any employees who don’t meet his standards.

He’s been known to scream harsh insults at workers, such as “Why are you wasting my life?” and “I’m sorry, did I take my stupid pills today?”

He especially does this if his employees don’t answer his questions right away.

15. Forced employees to come to work in terrible weather.

A vehicle driving on a snowy street

Source / Pixabay

Amazon ships out millions of packages per day which requires a lot of busy warehouse workers.

But those boxes wait for no one and nothing…not even blizzards. Inclement weather often has city officials calling for citizens to stay off the roads. Amazon apparently still expects employees to be clocking in as scheduled.

16. Shipped expired baby formula

 A stack of diapers, a baby bottle, and two folded baby blankets

Source / Pixnio

And while you know what is rolling downhill through Amazon, over Jeff Bezos’s employees, you can guess where it will land at the end; on the doorstep of his customers. There have been numerous consumer complaints of Amazon shipping out spoiled and expired food products to its customers.

People have received items like baby formula, beef jerky, tea, and coffee creamers that were out of date. Third-party sellers account for more than half of the food items selling on the website, and there is very little accountability by Bezos’s $1.14 trillion company to ensure customers are protected.

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