The Gig Economy

Herbold Asks Bezos to Lead a ‘National Conversation’ On Labor Rights

The Seattle councilmember wants the Amazon boss to help his contract-workers unionize.

On Wednesday, Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold sent an open letter to Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO and nascent cyborg god-emperor, asking him to step up for labor rights.

“I am writing to you today, on what may be a historic day for your company,” Herbold wrote, referring to a vote by Whole Foods shareholders to allow acquisition by Amazon to proceed, “to ask if you will convene a national conversation with other employers in the gig economy and labor advocates to plan how you will treat your employees as well as your customers.”

Herbold took Bezos to task for Amazon’s labor practices, such as unreliable scheduling for Amazon Prime Now employees and low wages and bad working conditions for security contractors. “For better or worse, your quest to turn what was once a small internet sales operation into the multinational behemoth has turbo-boosted Seattle’s economy,” she wrote. “But not everyone has benefited.” As a creator of the gig economy, Herbold wrote, Bezos uniquely can and should model good corporate citizenship for his peers to emulate.

Other “companies look to you for leadership,” wrote Herbold. “By committing to being a thoughtful, productive member of the conversation around unionizing in the new gig economy you can be that leader.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to request for comment.

cjaywork@seattleweekly.com

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