Why Should Public Sector Teamsters Care About Amazon’s Dominance?

Amazon, as it currently operates, is a drag on our local economy. Over 20,000 workers are employed at 15 different Amazon facilities across the Inland Empire, making it the region’s largest private employer. With a record-setting net-worth of $200 billion, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has not made a concerted effort to ensure that the company’s wealth flows down to workers in its warehouses, its planes, trucks, or vans. This is especially so in the Inland Empire, which has more Amazon facilities than any other metropolitan area. Amazon workers in the area do not make enough to make ends meet on that one job alone, requiring public benefits to make up for the difference.


With a minimum wage of $15 per hour, Amazon workers are kept on the edge of poverty. A 2018 report by The Economic Roundtable reports that in Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, and San Bernardino counties, 62 percent of Amazon warehouse workers and their families receive public assistance benefits. The report outlines the utilization of various types of public assistance programs:  

  • 58 percent receive their health insurance through Medi-Cal, which is the publicly subsidized health coverage for California residents with limited incomes. 
  • 20 percent receive Food Stamps, now called CalFresh, which assists low-income individuals and households in purchasing food. 
  • 7 percent receive cash public assistance.
  • 5 percent have someone in their household who receives Supplemental Security Income, which pays monthly benefits to people with limited income who are disabled. 


A majority of Amazon workers on full-time schedules received these benefits, proving that long hours alone were not enough to get by. By declining to raise the wage of Amazon warehouse workers to living wage standards ($20 by some conservative estimates), Jeff Bezos has shifted the responsibility onto taxpayers who help fund our social safety net programs. Teamsters Local 1932 is committed to raising standards at Amazon. By organizing the unorganized, we can make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of working families.


This is crucial as Amazon’s growth presents serious damage to the livelihoods of unionized workers and their families. The company, long reliant on the delivery services of unionized workforces at UPS and USPS, has recently doubled the footprint of its own delivery network, creating an uncertain future for these union workers. With plans to grow its footprint in the grocery and healthcare industries, Amazon’s dominance has no end in sight, unless we do something about it as Teamsters.


Amazon truly has reshaped our communities. The speed of its deliveries has made it a significantly favorable shopping experience for consumers. Amazon’s popularity has both withered away Main Street culture already on the decline and has led every other ambitious company to increase the turn-around time at their respective warehouses in order to meet the Amazon standard. Teamsters Local 1932 has created the Teamster Advantage program to keep members engaged with locally-owned businesses. Tax dollars are far better recycled through local economies when shoppers choose local businesses. By promoting Teamster Advantage, you help build a sustainable tax base throughout our communities.


Unfortunately, Amazon facilities have been pushed through for development in cities across the Inland Empire, with little resistance, and too often, with direct public subsidies attached. The Economic Roundtable estimates that Amazon was the beneficiary of $30,000,000 in waived traffic impact fees for its Inland Empire warehouses.


The indirect subsidies brought on by low wages, and the direct subsidies to encourage the development of Amazon facilities means less money for other vital services enjoyed by residents in our neighborhoods. Amazon, as it currently operates, leads to less funding for services handled by hard-working public employees throughout the Inland Empire. By fixing the issues at Amazon, we can fix the issues that plague the Inland Empire. Amazon workers across the region helped make Jeff Bezos the world’s richest man. It’s time for Amazon workers and our communities to share in that prosperity.


Want to make a difference? Contact your Business Agent for ways to get involved!