Can’t John Oliver pick on a corporate behemoth his own size?
If a late Wednesday afternoon tweet from Amazon is any indication, the HBO comedian’s recent segment on the international juggernaut’s warehouse conditions has hurt CEO Jeff Bezos’ feelings. And, as the article tweeted by Amazon warns, if Oliver doesn’t play nice then it will be Amazon’s own workers who will suffer — as Bezos automates them right out of their jobs.
If you’re scratching your head right now in confusion, you’re not alone. The article, allegedly written by an Amazon “sortation center” employee in West Sacramento, California, was shared by the company in a transparent effort to change the peeing-in-trashcans narrative that surrounds the company.
“Two sides to every story,” reads the tweet linking to the article in question, “an Amazon sortation center associate provided their perspective about the recent coverage of our working conditions[.]”
Screenshot of the tweet in question.
Image: screenshot / Twitter
Essentially, the piece’s argument boils down to this: One Amazon worker’s experience isn’t all that bad (he got 20 minutes to eat pancakes!), and therefore any criticism of the company’s labor practices is most likely overblown.
What’s more, it continues, said criticism risks angering Lord Bezos. If this keeps on, and Bezos becomes too upset, then he is sure to replace all of his employees with robots — something Amazon has supposedly only so far held off doing because it feels responsible for “[creating] more customers.”
Just about every job in my sortation center could probably be done by a robot. In fact, it amazes me that Amazon hasn’t simply automated the entire facility. After all, robots don’t call in sick, don’t steal from their employers, don’t sue for workman’s compensation, and they never complain about long hours or the heat or the cold. But nor do robots buy consumer goods. If I had to guess, I’d say that Amazon continues to employ lots of human beings because, by putting money into the pockets of working-class people, the company creates more customers. Robots may not buy basketball shoes or hibachi grills, but people sure do.
Yes, the argument goes, the company that literally plans to replace human jobs with robots is only holding off on a complete transition because it’s worried about selling more hibachi grills.
However, dear reader, that meanie John Oliver threatens the fragile truce began man and Amazon-machine.
“But if John Oliver and his ilk keep harping away at how inhumanely Amazon treats its workers,” continues the article, “Bezos might decide to completely automate his operation and people like me will be out of a job.”
So please stop hurting Jeff Bezos’ fragile feelings, John Oliver. The jobs of human workers clearly, obviously, and seriously depend on it.
UPDATE: July 24, 2019, 5:38 p.m. PDT: Welp, that didn’t take long. Amazon deleted the tweet.