Day 2: Amazon defeated the union in Alabama, but did it win on the larger stage?

Margaret OMara
University of Washington professor Margaret O’Mara discusses the history of tech at the 2017 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

Amazon warehouse employees voted against unionization in Bessemer, Ala., in a victory for the company and a defeat for organized labor. But the process put a harsh spotlight on labor practices in the tech giant’s fulfillment centers, and the company’s anti-union tactics. The union is challenging the outcome. But even if the results hold, was this really a win for Amazon?

“There are not clear winners and losers here,” said Margaret O’Mara, a historian, author and University of Washington professor who specializes in the history of tech and politics. “There may be some victory laps being run at Amazon right now. But this has opened up a conversation about its labor practices. Amazon plays hardball. That’s part of the secret of its success.”

On this episode of GeekWire’s new Day 2 podcast, O’Mara speaks about the aftermath of the union vote with GeekWire reporter Mike Lewis and our podcast collaborator Jason Boyce, a former Amazon seller who runs the e-commerce agency Avenue7Media and co-authored the book, The Amazon Jungle.

Listen above, and find more episodes of Day 2 here.

See also  How Jeff Wilke’s industrial roots guided him at Amazon, and inspired him to help revive U.S. manufacturing

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