High-profile politicians like President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have all publicly criticised Amazon, making it a prime target for activist groups eager to spread their messages, said Margaret O’Mara, a history professor at the University of Washington.”Surging protests reflect in part the politics of the moment and the heightened political visibility of Amazon on many fronts,” she said. “For labour and social justice activists, it has become a potent symbol of what has gone wrong with modern capitalism.”
Amazon has plowed through similar protests in previous years with minimal disruptions – US consumers are expected to spend a record $US9.4 billion ($13.8 billion) on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe and the company remains mostly popular with consumers and its customers.
Social media sentiment around Amazon and Cyber Monday was overwhelmingly positive, with 95 per cent of mentions deemed positive and 5 per cent negative, according Brandwatch, which monitored 90,000 mentions of “Cyber Monday” and “Amazon” on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook and forums like Reddit in the seven-day period of November 23 to December 2.
The big change this year is the coordination between disparate groups. A key development for Amazon critics was the announcement last week of a newly formed organisation called Athena, which brings together dozens of groups and claims 1 million members.
In an emailed statement, Amazon said “self-interested critics, particularly unions and groups funded by our competitors, have a vested interest in spreading misinformation about Amazon but the facts tell a different story.”
Amazon said it has invested more than $US270 billion in the United States since 2011 and created more than 400,000 jobs. Amazon has committed to a $US15 minimum wage for all of its workers, following criticism about wages in its warehouses. It has also pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040 following demonstrations by activist employees who said the company wasn’t doing enough to address climate change.
As of Black Friday, Amazon said strikes and demonstrations in Europe and the US had not hurt operations.
“Our network is robust and flexible so it’s business as usual for us, and our customers will be receiving their orders on time as planned,” an Amazon spokeswoman said.