Amazon Prime Day Strike

As someone who’s taken a lot of care to use a nice tone in this thread, I think it’s absolutely possible to take a hard stance against crossing picket lines without that being anything close to bullying.

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I dunno. The turn this conversation took where people are getting mad at Waypoint for streaming on a platform that allows them to continue to exist, and then suggesting they stream on a platform that silences LGBTQ voices, etc. is just wild to me.

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We are temporarily locking this thread while we as a team decide how to proceed from here. Sorry for any inconvenience.

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Hey everyone,

It took me by surprise when, about 20 or 30 minutes into today’s stream, I caught someone in the chat saying that Prime day was still going. After all, when I did a search for it, what I saw was language like “Prime Day is a one-day only global shopping event exclusively for Prime members,” and when I first saw the online calls for support, many of them specifically called out the 16th as a day for cross-industry solidarity.

So, once we finished Hot Mic Mornings, we spent time getting updated on the situation. Turns out, as y’all know, Prime Day was always meant to continue through today and some folks are already suggesting that because of outages on Amazon’s side, it may wind up being extended even further.

The thing is, collective organization is always messy, especially when it’s decentralized and multi-national. And corporate language is always misleading—Amazon’s “one day” language on a multi-day sale is an example of a strategy explicitly meant to entice shoppers into thinking their opportunity for purchase is limited. But we cannot let the inconsistency of organizational language or the misleading sales rhetoric of a company to be cover for inaction or faux-ignorance.

While this combination of mixed messaging from organizers and confusion around Prime Day’s length and timing led to us streaming this morning, now that we’re clear on it all, we can and must do the right thing and cancel today’s XCOM stream, and hold off on any other streams during this moment of solidarity with Amazon’s workers.

There’s been a lot of interesting debate in this thread about what we should do as a site and also about what we as individuals can, should, and must do. I can answer the plans for the former, and as for the latter, I can give my very personal answer.

  1. The team doesn’t feel comfortable streaming to some other platform during this strike. Partially, that’s because we have ongoing issues with other services. And partially that’s because whether intentionally or not, that would be us using the strike to test out other platforms, which goes against the goal of solidarity in this moment.

  2. As an individual, I know that I am always-already compromised. I live in a country that grew its wealth on slavery and colonization, and benefit today from those actions even as I move in racist spaces. I work for a corporation that my team has delivered demands to. We work everyday with platforms owned by companies that I think do awful, inhumane things. But I still have a responsibility to join in with and wave the flag of collective action whenever I can. Collective action is never perfect, and its almost always strategic. There, I don’t mean strategic in the strategy-game sense, I mean strategic as in recognizing the limits and hypocrisies of the action, and doing it anyway.

When we take strategic action—like strikes, protests, boycotts, etc.—we aren’t saying that we all agree. We obviously (as this thread shows) have disagreements large and small about how to go about changing the world. Those differences are both procedural and idealogical. That’s okay. But moments of strategic action are those where we say “okay, pause, for right now let’s be unified on this one big thing, and push.

I genuinely think there is value in discussing different positions here. I know that in my own life, my family and I have been in positions where joining boycotts would severely harm our household. I can’t look back and scold my mother for making sure I could eat and that she could pay rent those months. What I can do is that now—as Editor-in-Chief of this site and as someone who thankfully has been given the means to make independent economic choices thanks to all of your support—is say that the team at Waypoint will continue to take a stand here today, and tomorrow if the strike continues.

Thanks for your patience everyone. As you continue the conversation here, please remember to consider your responses carefully and to speak to each other with clarity of purpose. I think there are real differences of opinion here, and they’re grounded in real differences in circumstance. But behind each is a desire to drag that better world (which we all know is possible) into existence. Let’s focus there, for now, and focus on sharing resources and strategies to bring more people into this large, arduous fight.

Thanks as always for your patience and support.

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Hi, folks. Further to Austin’s message above, the mod team would like to make a quick post regarding this thread. One of the elements of our Waypoint Code of Conduct is that folks should work to de-escalate rather than enflame conversations. We have removed a number of posts from the thread above as we want to start the conversation on, well, a fresher slate.

We want to lay out the below thread-specific guidelines to keep in mind. We think this is a valuable discussion, as Austin said above. Solidarity boycotts, and their place in a broader movement, is worthwhile and important to discuss.

These points are as follows:

  • Please consider your responses carefully and speak with clarity of purpose. Stream-of-consciousness can be highly detrimental to a specific discussion and lead to unnecessary mutual frustrations.
  • Think about your word choices before you use them. Words have specific connotations, meaning, and history, and what you choose absolutely sways a conversation’s direction, pitch, and tone.
  • Respect that other users come from different backgrounds, circumstances, and experience and this may inform a difference of opinion.

Getting under someone’s skin in pursuit of an argument can turn a useful conversation into dust. It does us no pleasure to close a conversation with potential, but there is a broader forum community to consider.

Kind regards,
Waypoint Mod Team

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Once again I have taken care to write a post in the most civil and respectful way I can think of. I really hope that comes across, because it is genuinely my intent not to be inflammatory.
I’m not going to engage in arguments which I perceive to be happening in bad faith. Those of us against crossing the picket line have been told in this thread that we’re “bullying” the people who believe that is a privileged stance. I can only speak for myself, but I have never considered the individual judgments people make to be the problem. For me the issue is entering a thread meant to support industrial action and choosing to undermine that. I have to say that the most bullying behaviour I’ve seen in this thread has come from the “other side” (in quote marks to denote that neither “side” represents one unified group with monolithic politics). I’ve seen posters suggest that those of us who believe picket lines shouldn’t be crossed do not go outside or participate in politics outside of the internet. Apparently we’re the problem with the movement, and we’re “shitting on people”. It’s been suggested only privileged people are able to support the strike, which is simply untrue.
This thread has gone way off course from the original intent: to spread awareness and serve as a reminder not to buy from Amazon for the next few days. I want to take it back there: Don’t buy from Amazon in the next few days. This is what Amazon workers themselves have asked for. To the extent that is feasible, don’t use the services that fall under their corporate umbrella. Thanks.

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Speaking in a purely personal capacity, I think this is a good position to take.

In the interest of encouraging that awareness, a personal stumbling block I have had around this discussion is the now much-discussed Amazon Web Services. My understanding of how it works and how it fits into Amazon’s revenue model is limited (although my understanding of the latter is that it is quite important), but I would welcome folks to share what they know. Part of supporting workers should be understanding the stature of what they oppose and looking into what more can be done from here, since I feel like AWS is the source of at least some of the disagreement folks see around this.

In a world where Jeff Bezos tops $150 billion in net worth, I think understanding how and why Amazon has grown to be what it is is really important.

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Yeah i was also surprised since like, the tweets ive seen all said that the Strike was from 10th-16th

In the interest of encouraging that awareness, a personal stumbling block I have had around this discussion is the now much-discussed Amazon Web Services.

I think this is going to be a key question going forward, what does effective action against something as esoteric as AWS look like? In business as diversified and wide ranging as amazon, what’s a person to do?

Is it even possible to do effective action against Aws? Lots of business use AWS for their networks, it would be simply impossible to strike them all. Heck I work for a public healthcare provider, whose name you’d all recognise, and they use AWS at times.

My personal opinion is it’s just not worth striking AWS, the activism surrounding that part of the business would solely have to be campaign based, and perhaps we will see that coming out of this strike.

However things like twitch, amazon, goodreads, etc are far more tangible, far less insidious (for want of a better term) which leads me to believe in the event of a strike (as there is now) you have to boycott those tangible things to make up for not being able to do so with AWS.

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It’s been a little unclear tbh. Tweets that I’ve seen have specified the 16th to the 18th

In @Glorgu’s earlier post they shared some useful links detailing how far Amazon’s services reach, and since it’s ways back I thought it might be worth sharing again (thanks for posting them originally, Glorgu):

List of Amazon Product & Services
Some notable sites that make use of AWS infrastructure

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Here’s another link for more AWS sites

And I’ll just post the big list at the bottom of the article

Adobe, Airbnb, Alcatel-Lucent, AOL, Acquia, AdRoll, AEG, Alert Logic, Autodesk, Bitdefender, BMW, British Gas, Canon, Capital One, Channel 4, Chef, Citrix, Coinbase, Comcast, Coursera, Docker, Dow Jones, European Space Agency, Financial Times, FINRA, General Electric, GoSquared, Guardian News & Media, Harvard Medical School, Hearst Corporation, Hitachi, HTC, IMDb, International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, International Civil Aviation Organization, ITV, iZettle, Johnson & Johnson, JustGiving, JWT, Kaplan, Kellogg’s, Lamborghini, Lonely Planet, Lyft, Made . com, McDonalds, NASA, NASDAQ OMX, National Rail Enquiries, National Trust, Netflix, News International, News UK, Nokia, Nordstrom, Novartis, Pfizer, Philips, Pinterest, Quantas, Sage, Samsung, SAP, Schneider Electric, Scribd, Securitas Direct, Siemens, Slack, Sony, SoundCloud, Spotify, Square Enix, Tata Motors, The Weather Company, Ticketmaster, Time Inc., Trainline, Ubisoft, UCAS, Unilever, US Department of State, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, UK Ministry of Justice, Vodafone Italy, WeTransfer, WIX, Xiaomi, Yelp, Zynga.

In conclusion, it’s a whole bunch. I know I’ll personally be trying to avoid many sites, but it’s understandably difficult for many.

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Abolish the US Department of State

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Jesus, that list is chilling. Capitalism is a nightmare.

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I think AWS is part of delineating between “visible Amazon” (which includes online retail, physical retail acquisitions, and some digital services acquisitions & spun up internal groups) and the totality of Amazon. That totality of Amazon often has a significantly larger reach in the business to business sector. When everyone only focuses on individuals making decisions, we can ignore that individuals in corporations are often let off the hook if they’re not included (the idea that corporations and all individuals in them must only acts as short term profit maximisation machines and we can’t expect anything else). But also corporations use the other parts of Amazon too, but a focus purely on consumers can again let those decision-makers off the hook.

I think it might be better to think of the two parts as consumer-facing Amazon and business-facing Amazon (including AWS). We can and should ask the question of businesses - did you participate? Here is VICE advertising their use of AWS:

AWS was 10% of Amazon’s total revenue for 2017. Tens of billions of dollars a year. It is talked about as Amazon’s 3rd pillar (after the marketplace and all services that get rolled into Prime). The potential 4th pillar? B2B procurement and distribution. Which use those same warehouses.

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I didn’t realize until reading the thread that Goodreads was an Amazon product. I deleted my account and the app. It’s nice to have a list of books I want to read, but I can just keep that in a note on my phone.

Well shit, guess I’m not going to be customizing my Lamborghini today.

I will never cease to be amazed by the extent to which so much corporate structuring and business is just a snake eating its own tail. Comcast uses AWS? It’s a goddamned ISP. In what world does the service that provides the actual internet need a third party to host its website on the internet?

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As someone who works with AWS on a daily basis it’s also reaalllly broad and far reaching. Just because a company isn’t using AWS as a webhosting service doesn’t mean they aren’t using it at all but it might not be consumer facing. We use it as a cloud computing/big data tool to handle processing tasks that would take far, far too long to do normally, and as an auto archive solution for the reports that generates. But that is seriously like, an extremely small portion of what they offer.

The AWS services dashboard has over 100 different menu items on it and include tools for pretty much any service sector that involves a computer. I frankly would say trying to boycott it entirely is impossible because they have their fingers in a lot of (not necessarily consumer facing) pies.

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