Wednesday, June 16, 2021

'UC Merced's Humility and Gratitude' for Negative Mañana-ing Trope Stereotype of Workers?? --(The Origin is Blue Or Just Green?)

 [ maybe some research needed - they could help:

"University Council-American Federation of Teachers and UC Office of the President reach impasse in bargaining for lecturer pay" ]

--oh, the feelings, nothing more than feelings in:
"UC Merced receives multi-million dollar gift from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott" words of thanks from us would be utterly inadequate to express our full gratitude, humility and sense of responsibility to serve as careful stewards of this gift. We pledge to continue to do the work that made UC Merced deserving of this magnificent investment in our students, faculty and staff,” Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz said in the news release.

-- Could we just please get a bit more objective language and clear eyed comments from UC leadership about where it comes from?

the mañana -ing trope stereotype of workers to be celebrated by or met with humility and gratitude by UC Merced's leadership, seriously?

"What We Learned About Amazon's Warehouse Workers - The New York Times"

see also language of:
"In all, Scott’s contribution to the colleges, as well as other nonprofits and organizations that promoting causes like racial equity and community engagement, totals over $2.73 billion, according to The Washington Post.

Higher education donations by Scott exceeded $800 million last year. That round of funds highlighted giving to universities attended by large numbers of Black, Latino and Native American students and set donation records at many historically Black colleges.

In that:"
--its a coincidence that the gifts are made at the same time that NYT article comes out?

'Inherently lazy:' NYT report exposes Amazon's low regard for workers
Rachel Maddow shares highlights from a new New York Times report on how Amazon, the company that is likely to soon become the largest private employer in the U.S., treats its workers, guided by a philosophy that workers are inherently lazy and purposely maintaining an extremely high rate of turnover to ensure that disgruntled workers don't linger. 

and via Yahoo:

 To be clear, the $ comes from this :

see this rush/automated transcript (it has some errors- and the service for 24hr cable news seems to have some difficulty with vocab and even adds in words never uttered at points- but below is the overall context and mostly accurate matching language that was used. below we corrected some minor errors and removed a word that was not said but the transcript added in ):

MADDOW: I have read this headline over and over today and I still sort of can`t get over it, even just the basic grammar of it. MacKenzie Scott gives away another $2.7 billion dollars to charity. Another? MacKenzie Scott is one of the richest women in the world. Today, she announced in fact that she`s donating more than $2.7 billion dollars to charitable organizations this year.

But again, and that headline the word 'another' is where I get tripped up, because also this is about what she`s giving this year but it`s June. Why would you be announcing what you`re doing this year in June? Oh it`s because that`s what`s she`s given away at the first half of this year.

Last summer, she announced that she gave away almost $2 billion to historically black colleges. Then at the end of last year, she announced that she`d given more than $4 billion to a bunch of other charities. Now today, nearly $3 billion against just in the first half of this year.

She`s given more than $8 billion and its 12-month period. It`s an incredible thing in lots of ways.

But there`s another reason I can`t get this headline out of my head today. MacKenzie Scott, of course, used to be MacKenzie Scott Bezos. She was married to Jeff Bezos, who is the founder of Amazon. They divorced in 2019.

Because of his stake in Amazon, Jeff Bezos is by far the richest person on the earth. When the two of them got divorced, MacKenzie Scott got her own share of the fortune. Her settlement basically in the divorce is that she holds 4 percent of Amazon`s stock.

When they divorced a couple years ago, that meant she was worth about $36 billion. But now, owning 4 percent of Amazon`s top means that she`s worth not $36 billion, but more like $60 billion.

And that`s even with giving away $8 billion in a year, right? Giving way $8 billion as fast as she can. Amazon is worth so much as a company, giving away billions of dollars a year doesn`t affect the fact that her net worth still just keeps going up and it`s not like she is Jeff Bezos. Jeff Bezos himself is something worth $190 billion.

He says he has so much money now, the only thing he can think of to do with it all is to launch himself into space. He says -- I know you think I`m kidding or I`m being hyperbolic, but he said a few years ago that the only way I can see to deploy this much financial resources is by converting my Amazon winnings and space travel that is basically it.

And so, now, he`s doing it. He`s funding a space tourism company and he`s headed to space next month himself.

The wealth that Amazon, that company has generated, it`s almost impossible to wrap your head around, especially over the past year because of the pandemic, Amazon which was already unimaginably gigantic saw a huge upsurge in business last year. Like everybody was staying home, everyone was staying out of stores. Everyone is ordering everything online.

If you take what Amazon made in profits in the three years before the pandemic and add those three years of profits together, that`s how much Amazon made last year alone. They made three years of profit in one year last year. And so, yeah, Jeff Bezos is making himself into a space man and his ex-wife is giving away billions of dollars a year and still only getting richer as she does it.

But, of course, the way that company is able to generate all of that concentrated wealth is that they have a huge, massive army of workers who handle all of those packages. They`re the ones who make Amazon all the money, along with the company`s bottom line that work and ballooned last year.

Last year between July and October, Amazon hired 350,000 new employees. That`s more people than live in the entire city of St. Louis, Missouri. They added 350,000 new workers just from July to October.

Right now, Amazon is the second largest private employer in the United States and they are on pace to become the largest private employer within the next year or two. And last year, reporters at "The New York Times" started talking to Amazon employees wherever they could find them, specifically, they started talking to people who have hourly jobs working at this facility. It`s called JFK 8. It`s on Staten Island in New York City.

Amazingly, it`s the only fulfillment center that Amazon has for the largest city in the country. It`s huge. It`s the size of 15 football fields. Again the only Amazon fulfillment center for the whole New York City area.

Reporters from "The New York Times" spent months talking to employees who work inside that facility. And today, they published what they found. This is the headline: "The Amazon that customers don`t see."

"The Times" interviewed nearly 200 current and former Amazon employees for this piece, many of the people who work inside that gigantic JFK 8 facility. And what they were able to thread together from all the stories is the bluntly dystopian picture of what it`s like to work in that fulfillment center, especially during COVID.

Here is just one anecdotal example from a family called the Castillo family. On the left there is Albert Castillo with his wife and their two kids, Alberto had worked at JFK 8 for five years when COVID hit New York last spring. He and his wife talked about whether he should stay home from work to avoid getting COVID. But they`re trying to buy a house, they needed the income, he kept going to work.

This is how "The Times" tells the rest. Quote: When Mr. Castillo arrived to work at JFK 8 on March 24th, he heard the warehouse had its first positive COVID case. He messaged and his boss replied, yes, I forgot to bring that up. And out of that everyone who worked with the employee had been notified.

Mr. Castillo called his wife to discuss whether to head home. They decided he would finish out his shift on the dawn drive back to New Jersey, his throat began itching.

Mr. Castillo became severely ill with COVID. He suffered permanent brain damage. Doctors say he will never speak or eat or work again.

For a while, Mr. Castillo`s family was receiving disability payments from Amazon but out of the blue, they stopped coming without warning. His wife frantically tried to reach somebody from Amazon to find out what happened. Most of the calls and emails went unanswered.

Finally, she got someone on the phone who agreed it was an error and reinstated the payments. But then she got an email from Amazon addressed to her husband that made no sense under the circumstances and said, quote, 'we notified your manager in H.R. rep about your return to work on October 1st, 2020.'

What? Mr. Castillo cannot eat or talk let alone work. How is he going to go back to work? Especially since the company notice they`re paying him disability payments.

Mr. Castillo`s wife says she doesn`t think the company ever really understood what happened to her husband. She told "The Times"  she wanted to ask Amazon, quote, 'are your care workers disposable? Can you just replace them?'

A spokeswoman for Amazon expressed regret that Mr. Castillo`s family did not feel properly supported. The company said he and his family are in Amazon`s thoughts and prayers. They also said those disability payments were prematurely halted in error due a systems issue that has affected other employees as well.

Mr. Castillo, of course, was not the only employee at JFK 8 to come down with COVID. By May, another one of his coworkers had died of COVID. But look at what "The Times" is now reporting. Quote: 'While Amazon said publicly that it was disclosing confirmed cases to health officials, New York City records show no reported cases from the Amazon facility until November.' "The Times" notes that Amazon and city officials dispute what happened.

But believe me when I tell you that horrible confusion with the Castillo family, at this construction site with sprouting COVID cases is just the tip of the iceberg. This blockbuster in the times paints a picture about an American workplace for American employees who have been fired by mistake and then unable to find any real human being in HR to try to fix it, let alone reinstate them.

It`s a story about a company that suffers from immense, almost unfathomable turnover.

"The Times" found that even before the pandemic, Amazon was losing 3 percent of its hourly workforce every week which means 150 percent turnover a year. Their entire workforce was completely turning over in less than a year.

One former Amazon employee telling "The New York Times" about what it means for a company as big as Amazon to churn through its entire huge workforce once or twice a year. He says, quote, you need to have 8 million, 9 million, 10 million people apply each year.

That`s about 5 percent of the entire American workforce. The company is worried they will literally not have enough people to keep churning through to keep the same company that they are.

The people who have been or likely will be employed by Amazon represents a really big slice of people who live in this country, given the size of that company and how big it keeps growing. But according to this reporting in "The Times" in particular, it appears to be a problematic place to work to say the least.

It`s particularly problematic if you`re not a white person. According to internal records obtained by "The Times", black employees at JFK 8 were 50 percent more likely to be fired than their white coworkers. More than 60 percent of the workers at the JFK 8 warehouse are black or Latino, but 70 percent of the people the company put in management positions there were white or Asian.

Amazon said, they couldn`t confirm that data without knowing more specifics about its source. One former HR vice president at Amazon who spoke to "The Times" told "The Times" that Amazon intentionally limited upward mobility for hourly workers, which means if you`re a core worker at Amazon, the ones making it possible for Jeff Bezos to shoot himself into space, particularly, if you`re a worker of color at Amazon, chances are you are not moving up in the company.

The company is deliberately making sure that there is no upward mobility for its hourly employees, who are the ones, again, make the company it`s money.

But they are also not sticking around at Amazon for the long haul, which is planned. That turnover is a structural problem at Amazon. It`s by design.

According to that same senior HR employee, Jeff Bezos from the beginning didn`t want hourly workers that were going to stick around for any amount of time. He said Bezos saw a, quote, 'large disgruntled workforce as a threat.'

The Amazon official told "The Times" that Amazon`s data showed most employees became less eager overtime and that Jeff Bezos believed that people were inherently lazy. He said Bezos would tell him that, our nature as humans is to expand as little energy is possible to get what we want or need.

Apparently the guiding philosophy at the company that`s about to become the largest employer of Americans. If you`re an hourly worker, if you`re one of those people at JFK 8, it just doesn`t seem like there is a future for you at Amazon - there`s no step up, right? They`re going to churn through you until they get someone else to do your job.

The richest company on the horizon, right? Company generating amounts of wealth without a way for the people who create that wealth to participate in its rewards, and it`s one thing when a lot of companies are like that. It`s another thing, it`s another thing for the country when you are about to become the largest private employer of Americans.

This reporting in the times today is the kind of journalism that leaves a crater when it lands. Jodi Kantor is one of the lead reporters on this story and she joins us next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Joining us now is Jodi Kantor. She`s one of the investigative reporters behind this mammoth, new "New York Times" investigation of a company who`s about to become the largest private employer of the United States, Amazon a company with 150 percent annual turnover in its workforce.

You will also recognize Ms. Kantor as a Pulitzer Prize winner for her reporting on #metoo movement and the abuses of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Jodi Kantor, it`s very nice for you to make time to be here tonight. Thank you so much.

JODI KANTOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you for having me.

MADDOW: Why Amazon? Why did you pick --- you and your co-authors pick Amazon as the subject for this investigation?

KANTOR: I think the ultimate question of this investigation is how can Amazon be so precise and sophisticated with packages and yet treat people so differently? For example, at Amazon, you can get a job (INAUDIBLE) lose a job just for applying for a leave, just for applying for a very routine leave, many people have gotten them. And they really alarmed workers into thinking that something is wrong.

They`re sort of that notification that you mention a few minutes ago, to Ann Castillo (ph) when her husband was so ill. She got a message saying, you know, to her husband, Alberto, saying 'When are you coming back to work?' Even though for months, she had been trying to tell the company that her husband was very, very severely ill.

MADDOW: Jodi, one of the things that I found nightmarish in your reporting was the moment by moment monitoring of Amazon workers at fulfillment centers. Their rate at which they accomplish their task and their time off task when they`re doing something that physically the company in its automated system does not believe to be a productive movement. It feels sort of like Kafka-esque.

KANTOR: So, we tell the story of a worker named Diana Santos (ph) who was a very good performer. She was regularly praised by her bosses and yet at the end of 2019, she was fired. Why? Because she had one bad day.

She had one of those nightmare days at work where one thing snowballed into another thing and she says she really tried to stay on task, but other things got into the way. There were breakdowns, et cetera. She had to pause for a few minutes.

At the end of the day, she was told that her 'job totals' was too high and she was escorted out.

That kind of practice has created a tremendous amount of fear among Amazon workers. People watching tonight may have heard the idea that Amazon workers can`t take bathroom breaks. That is not literally true, but it represents the apprehension that this company mistreats its workers.

Now, actually, over the last couple of weeks we asked Amazon`s many questions, we asked them for a lot of responses and we went to them with Diana Santos` story I think four times and finally, they came back to us and said that they are changing that policy just a little bit so that now nobody can be fired for one bad day. They will look at an average over time.

So this is also a fascinating part of the reporting because on the one hand, we found all these enormous problems in the warehouses, on the other hand, Jeff Bezos recently said that he wants to do things differently and the question is now, how far will he go?

MADDOW: Reading about this as a business story, you can almost imagine a sort of evil genius on the business side thinking, 'boy, I wish I had that. I wish I had the ability to treat workers that disposable, to automate all of their interactions with the company'. To have them get hired by a machine and fired by a machine, and have them not have anybody to call and complain, and 'I can just churn through people and use them like tools.'

You can imagine the sort of evil business -- sort of efficiency argument for this type of work, and clearly, it`s part of the secret of how Amazon has been so profitable. But the other thing that I did not realize at all before reading this reporting is that Amazon is starting to realize that they`re operating this way at such a massive scale, they may be burning their way through at least the American workforce in the way that is going to force them to change, because they can`t just keep doing this. There aren`t 10 millions Americans who are going to apply for these jobs every year, if this is what the jobs are like.

KANTOR: There were some courageous veterans who went on the record with my colleague Karen Weise. They did a story with Karen Weise (INAUDIBLE). And what they told Karen in Seattle is that they are deeply worried.

They are worried about Amazon running out of workers and they`re also worried about scale. What they`re saying is that some of the Bezos` ideas like the idea that workers are lazy, human beings want to expand less effort, et cetera, et cetera, they`re seeing these were interesting, provocative ideas when you tried them in a smaller workplace, but when you try to scale them up to these gigantic proportions, in some cases with computers doing a lot of work, and some human intervention but not always a ton, then that is when the system begins to break down.

And yes, executives are churning through workers so fast that there are starting to worry about running out of workers.

MADDOW: Jodi Kantor, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter from "The New York Times", who Jeff Bezos wants to shoot into space, I`m willing to bet. At this point, he`s going to offer you his seat, do not take it, Jodi.

Congratulations to you and your colleagues in this reporting. Thank you so much.

KANTOR: Thank you so much.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.

wondering if folks noted Amazon in Nomadland? Did Regent Lansing?

wondering how WaPo covered it? like this:

-harder to read that paper now
Just a-- feeling that: The money for Blue Origin should have gone to NASA.
why should private get any?
(And on logo picks there-there are unoriginal feathers -and then there are quills)

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