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MLive celebrates the new Amazon distribution center, omits the company’s exploitation of workers and profits from oppression

February 14, 2020

In the past few days, MLive has run two articles on the new Amazon distribution center in Gaines Township.

The first article, from February 10, talks about how many people Amazon plans on hiring for the facility which will likely open this Spring. The MLive story states that those hired in will make $15 an hour, plus it acknowledges that Amazon received a $4 million grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund, to assist in opening up the new fulfillment center.

There was a second MLive article that appeared on February 12th, with the focus being on what kind of partnerships the company hopes to create with the opening of the new distribution center in Gaines Township. Amazon says they want to “give back to the community.”

The only partnership the article mentions is a possible partnership with the Kent Intermediate School District. The KISD Superintendent states:

“For example, we could envision having an instant relationship due to the complexity of the distribution center with the automation such as with our Megatronics program. Hopefully, as they get settled we can nurture and develop a partnership for the students we serve and for Amazon.”

Such a statement is rather disturbing, especially coming from the Superintendent of the ISD.

The February 12 MLive article goes on to talk about how Amazon is committed to becoming a sustainable business, by implementing a net zero carbon policy by 2040. Unfortunately, there are no details about how the company plans on achieving these goals. For instance, Amazon distribution centers rely on a massive fleet of vans to deliver the items that people purchase online. These vehicles are all currently gas powered, which means that hundreds of vans from the new Gaines Township facility will be deployed daily, powered by fossil fuels, thus creating more pollution.

What the MLive articles failed to acknowledge were the following:

  • Amazon does not support labor unions, as was reflected in a leaked video that was sent to management without the Amazon corporate system. 
  • Amazon is owned by Jeff Bezos, the richest person on the planet, with an estimated wealth of $126 Billion. He makes approximately $2,489 per second — more than twice what the median US worker makes in a week.
  • The Amazon Web Services’ cloud computing platform is the host for Palantir’s Investigative Case Management (ICM) software. ICM is then used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to manage their caseload and facilitate the tracking down and deportation of undocumented immigrants. Palantir, a data analytics firm, receives taxpayer dollars to provide these algorithms to government agencies, with its ICE contract being worth over $51 million. For its part, Amazon in turn receives $600,000 a month from Palantir. In addition, Amazon’s new home-security company (Ring), works with hundreds of law enforcement agencies and ICE to provide video from the Ring system that can also be used to target the undocumented community. Source: https://mijente.net/2018/10/whos-behind-ice-the-tech-companies-fueling-deportations/

Amazon will being paying low wages to the 1,000 new employees at the Gaines Township distribution center, even though the owner of Amazon (Jeff Bezos) will make more in one second than what these new Amazon employees will make in a week. Plus, Amazon is profiting from the oppression of undocumented immigrants that ICE is targeting, through the government’s partnership with Palantir and Amazon. And we are supposed to be excited, even grateful, that Amazon is opening this new distribution center?

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