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What happens when Amazon becomes a fixture in US towns and cities?
Erika Hayasaki recently wrote an article for The New York Times about Amazon’s influence on the Inland Empire, an area east of Los Angeles where the company is the largest private employer. More than 40,000 people in the region process or deliver Amazon orders, double the number two years ago.
I spoke to Hayasaki, a professor in the Literary Press Program at the University of California, Irvine, about what she learned from studying Amazon workers in the region and the implications – good and bad – when Amazon came to town.
Shira: What interests you when you write about Amazon in the Inland Empire?
Hayasaki: My family moved to a city called Eastvale in 2018 and Amazon’s presence was immediately apparent. Near Costco, you see two giant Amazon warehouses totaling more than 6,000 employees. You see Amazon pickups and new homes with Amazon products like the one that come pre-installed.
Officials at nearby Ontario International Airport showed me runways that are being partially built to let Amazon goods fly in and out. We always see Amazon as shoppers, but it’s different here. I started talking with workers about how they feel about them.
What did Amazon warehouse staff tell you that they like and dislike their work?
They appreciate Amazon providing them with health and retirement benefits – and that they have a job at a time when many others have lost their jobs.
The biggest concern I hear is safety. It was not new, but when a pandemic struck, fear of workers was heard for their lives.
And some Amazon jobs are precarious. I went around with an Amazon delivery driver who also works for an app-based delivery company. So was his girlfriend. They have pieced together various forms of income for themselves and their five children. It is not an easy way to live.
Amazon is create many new jobs with starting salary more than double the minimum wage. Isn’t that good?
Most of the employees I spoke to said that Amazon could do better thanks to the company’s financial success. I heard the workers ask why the company raised the salary by $ 2 an hour, but it was only temporary. They’re working harder than ever and it’s still an epidemic.
For Eastvale, what is the effect of having Amazon there?
City officials say they appreciate the new jobs Amazon creates, but they fear that automation could slowly eliminate jobs. And due to the state’s tax structure, the city is getting less tax revenue than expected from Amazon’s presence.
City officials also say there’s a lot of wear and tear on Amazon’s heavily laden roads. And for a lot of people on the Amazon site, it makes a lot of calls to the police and emergency services for workers’ injuries or just steering people. It is a traction on local resources.
Your article discussed “company towns” – cities like Hershey, Pa., That were once dominated by a single employer. Is Eastvale like that?
No, unlike previous corporate towns, Amazon does not control employee housing or replace government functions. But in the Inland Empire there are some elements that are reminiscent of corporate towns. One thing that impressed me was Amazon’s career program for high school students. People appreciate it, but others in the community raise questions about teenagers being put on the Amazon job search.
Shoshana Zuboff, an emeritus professor at Harvard Business School, told me that Amazon goes far beyond the corporate city phenomenon. It’s a corporate world. With Amazon’s presence in our lives, its size and the number of people the company uses, it’s a combination unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Tips of the week
When to replace your gadgets
Wondering how old the TV or internet router in your living room is? The New York Times personal technology column Brian X. Chen Discover when to consider replacing four of the most important conveniences in our lives.
I am an advocate of making your technology last as long as possible. But at some point, it was time to replace your phone, computer, TV and internet router. However, it’s hard to know when. Here’s a cheat sheet of when to consider stopping your existing templates:
Smartphone: Replacing your device is wise when your phone is no longer able to receive operating system updates. When that happens, some of your favorite apps may stop working properly, and you won’t easily get security enhancements to protect you from attacks and malware.
Apple iPhones can usually get software updates for five years, and Android phones usually get software updates for two to three years.
Computer: Likewise, when your computer can no longer receive important software updates, it’s probably time to get it working. But Windows PCs and Macs tend to receive these updates much longer than smartphones – between 9 and 15 years. (I’m still using an iMac that I bought 9 years ago.)
However, during that time, other parts like your hard drive, laptop battery or monitor may be faulty. When rising repair costs become impractical, it may be time to look for a newer model.
Television: You can stick with TV for decades if you don’t mind missing out on the improvements in video quality. But also think about what connects to your kit. If your TV is so old that you can’t plug in the modern gadgets you want to use – video game consoles, video sticks, and audio equipment – then maybe it’s time to stop using it. .
Internet router: Your Wi-Fi hub is a vital piece of infrastructure that affects everything connected to your home internet. Generally speaking, new Wi-Fi technologies are released to the market every 5 years. If your router is more than 5 years old, you’ll want to use the latest Wi-Fi technology as you’ll likely see meaningful improvements in speed and coverage.
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