Progworld, a sphere that now includes much of the media, is celebrating a vote that created Amazon’s first union. And you would have to be a prog to think that will last.
Amazon’s empire is increasingly built on outsourcing, its products and sellers to China, and its massive domestic delivery services to subcontractors. The only thing unionization means is that Amazon will pull further away from New York. Between the backlash to its effort to open a second HQ in New York City and the warehouse workers union, the Seattle giant will keep its footprint smaller. And it has plenty of options for doing so.
Progs think this will kickstart the nationwide unionization of warehouse workers. It’s more likely to kickstart Amazon’s rethinking of its entire warehouse strategy. There’s no real reason that Amazon needs to operate its infrastructure of warehouses in-house. And it has a variety of options, including shifting to a network of smaller subcontractor-operated warehouses that would cover more territory. Amazon already created the model for this with its delivery service. As regulatory pressure grows in New York and California over its labor practices, Amazon may find it simpler to just turn over the problem to subcontractors.
Amazon ceased to be a retailer a while back and became a platform. In keeping with its Big Tech worldview, it’s not here to sell you things, but to sell its third-party sellers access to you. Rapid fulfillment and free shipping are major reasons why Prime has as many subscribers as it does. But Amazon has shown that it can rapidly ship products without relying on either delivery services or its own labor force. Can it do the same with its warehouses? We may find out.
There is also a third option.
Considering the fact that a majority of Amazon’s third-party sellers are in China and increasingly its product base consists of Chinese junk, it can just handle most of the warehousing and packaging on the Chinese end. And then Amazon will be what it’s been for a while now, a platform for Chinese sellers and products.