Angry Amazon employees are talking about forming a union

Jeff BezosMichael Seto/Business InsiderAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos

There’s a website built for anonymous reviews about Amazon’s work environment — and its founders are now threatening to start a union drive if the company fails to take appropriate action to improve its work culture.

The website, called
The Former And Current Employees (FACE) of Amazon, encourages former and current Amazon employees to leave Glassdoor-like anonymous reviews about their experience working at the e-commerce company.

There are currently over 100 reviews describing Amazon’s difficult work environment, including an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, in which the site’s founders (comprised of both current and former Amazon employees) call for an immediate fix to what they call a “major flaw in the company culture we have otherwise thrived in.”

Given Amazon has over 230,000 employees, the user pool at FACE is tiny so far. Every company has dissatisfied employees.

But the fact that there’s an independent — and rapidly growing — site solely dedicated to punishing Amazon reviews shows the company may still have to deal with more negative publicity regarding its work culture.’

Amazon declined to comment on this report.

How the group started

FACE launched last year, shortly after the publication of a New York Times report criticising Amazon for its difficult workplace, but it stayed under the radar
The Stranger published a report about it in the first week of February. Since then FACE’s traffic has grown from just 27,000 in its first four months, to now over 100,000 over the past few weeks, one of the site’s anonymous cofounders told Business Insider.

“We’re really trying to form a movement around worker rights and trying to tell Amazon that if you don’t fix this, we’re going to figure out a way to fix it” this person told us by phone after we reached him through the site’s email address.

This person told us that he’s one of five core founding members, who are made up of current and former employees, but he would not tell us whether he worked there currently and insisted on remaining anonymous. This person said that some of the founding members are Amazon employees, which allows them to check internal systems to verify each reviewer’s identity.

We also spoke on the phone to one person who posted on the web site, and confirmed via LinkedIn that this person has been employed at Amazon.

Fixing Amazon

So what exactly does FACE want to fix?

The founding member we spoke to says Amazon has groups of autonomous teams spread throughout the company and managers have too much power to mistreat their team members. The HR office is more focused on silencing mistreated employees with hefty severance packages than actually standing up to protect them, this person said.

“People are feeling burned out and rejected,” this person added. “People do believe in hard work and the fast pace, and delivering big things for customers, but they don’t believe in allowing managers to abuse people, which seems to be the case here.”

In fact, the most popular post on the site, titled “Org Split Shows How Amazon Can Go Bad,” seems to underscore the same problem. “I’m a former Amazonian and I think it’s important to note that each line of business runs itself without much oversight from above. Some are run with compassion, others with fear and many are in between,” it writes.

FACE hopes the reviews on its site will be enough to cause Amazon to acknowledge its problems and implement stronger HR systems to prevent any further management issues. But if it doesn’t see much change in the next couple months, it plans to take steps towards taking legislative action and creating a union for Amazon employees.

“We’re going to start figuring out a way to allow current Amazon employees to sign union petitions without facing repercussions. Our goal is making sure people are treated fairly, and if they’re not treated fairly, there’s a recourse for them,” one of the cofounders said.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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