The media reports over the past few years that chronicled widespread abuses of workers certainly had an impact on Amazon’s current situation.
In a 2011 essay for the Atlantic, former employee Vanessa Veselka shared her perspective on working at an Amazon warehouse outside Seattle, revealing she took the position for the sole reason of organizing the employees.
Veselka was eventually fired from her temp position, but the public relations pile on was just getting started. Following the Atlantic piece, warehouse workers told Business Insider that time- crunched employees were using trash bins to go to the bathroom.
Employees also described an alleged work atmosphere rooted in fear of missing productivity targets, and said that employees spent most of their lunch breaks waiting in line for security screenings. Former Amazon workers have also said they were pressured to under-report warehouse injuries.
Under attack on all fronts, Amazon ultimately found a way to balance employee trust and consumer trust. “We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Bezos, when announcing the organization’s decision to move to the $15 minimum wage. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”
With the recent announcement of the two “HQ2” locations in Long Island City, New York and Northern Virginia, it remains to be seen how Amazon will move forward and keep up its positive momentum with employees while also building trust in two new communities.