Serfdom at Amazon Warehouses

Billionaire Bezos and the Warehouse Workers
His net worth might be as much as 100 billion times that of many Amazon workers.
Bloomberg, April 20, 2018.



We have just learned that the median salary of employees at Inc. is $28,446, excluding its chief executive officer and founder, Jeff Bezos. That pitiful number raises an intriguing question: Is Amazon is a high-paying tech company or a low-wage retailer?

“Both” is the obvious answer, but to this Amazon aficionado 1  that answer is incomplete.

The pay figure, which was disclosed for the first time in Amazon’s annual proxy statement, reflects the large number of low-paid retail and warehouse employees who work for the company. The proxy also disclosed that Bezos was paid $1.68 million, making the ratio of what Bezos was paid and the median pay 59-to-1.

What does that ratio tell us? Really, not very much. Bezos, according to the proxy, had a 2017 compensation of $81,840 in salary. The rest was in the form of perks, much of it for “security arrangements” and travel. But Bezos’s pay, which seems rather modest when stacked up against the obscene earnings of many other corporate chiefs, is almost irrelevant. That’s because Bezos is the world’s wealthiest person, with a fortune now estimated at $129 billion (depending upon what Amazon stock is trading at this moment).

So that ratio, although accurate, means next to nothing. If you really want to understand the gap between CEO and worker, consider instead the ratio between the net worth of the boss and his employees: I did, and it’s beyond measure. Seriously, 100 billion-to-1 is not an outlandish estimate…


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