Curbing Amazon’s monopoly power on the Internet – New York Daily News

When you click “order” on your Amazon cart, a chain reaction starts to deliver that yoga mat in record time. Thousands of Amazon workers like me are at the heart of it all.

Unfortunately, that yoga mat only arrives at your door the next day due to the abusive conditions Amazon forces its warehouse workers to operate under. Nearly 30 miles of walking at each turn. Minimal breaks for the bathroom. Twelve hours a day for pay and benefits that are table scraps — not enough to support my family, and not enough coming from one of the richest companies ever. These were the conditions I witnessed over and over again for three years as a factory worker in New Jersey and later as an Amazon warehouse supervisor in Staten Island.

That kind of treatment isn’t fair and will get worse when Amazon suffers the biggest layoff in company history. We deserve a seat at the table, which is why I successfully led the first unionization effort at an Amazon fulfillment center. Our campaign still has a long way to go, and I’ve seen firsthand how hard Amazon will fight to keep its boot on its workers’ necks. The company sells fear and intimidation – they even had me arrested for trying to stop me, which only made me fight harder for justice.

In this still from video, Amazon workers line up outside the company's facility in New York City's Staten Island borough on March 25, 2022.

But it was only recently that I started to see the bigger picture: how Amazon uses the same tactics to stifle companies that are also potential competitors. How John Oliver explained in one segment which went viral this summer, Amazon is using its domain to prevent competitors from having a chance to compete. Amazon copies products made by real small businesses, prioritizes its own over originals in search results, and reduces quality and choice for consumers in the process.

These tactics have far-reaching consequences, not just for competitors and workers, but for the economy and society as a whole.

Lack of accountability has allowed Big Tech companies to continue their anti-competitive practices and exploit their market share to stifle innovation. But a bipartisan bill currently under consideration on Capitol Hill could change that. The bill – the American Online Choice and Innovation Act (AICO) – it would spur innovation, increase competition, improve product quality, empower small businesses, and lower prices for consumers by making companies like Amazon compete on the merits of its products and services instead of using their dominance to kill the competition.

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Although the bill has the necessary votes to pass, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer refuses to bring the legislation to a vote. The Biden administration has gone to great lengths to do this push for a vote on the bill, and voters said loud and clear midterm that they will reward action on the economy. What is Schumer waiting for?

The truth is that Schumer talks about supporting work and holding monopolies accountable, but is missing out on an opportunity to do something about it. It’s time for Schumer to act. Here because.

First, it’s not about left or right politics, it’s about worker power and ending corporate abuse. More competition equals more worker power, and more worker power equals a stronger democracy. Our country was built on the idea of ​​free and fair markets, but right now corporate greed and the monopolistic behavior of Big Tech companies are eroding it before our eyes. This bill would help ensure free and fair competition that promotes the best in American innovation and competition, instead of a racket where the biggest corporations call the shots.

Second, the fight to hold Amazon accountable is about protecting the future of the internet. Antitrust laws haven’t been significantly updated since the early days of the internet, and it’s easy to see how tech companies have exploited that lack of oversight to earn more wealth than most countries, write their own rules, and offer worse products along the way. the way. Someone recently compared Google’s increasingly less useful search results to the feeling of walking through a dying mall. The same can be heard on the internet, from Amazon to Facebook. AICO would help fix it.

And finally, most Americans support the legislation, including prominent members of Schumer’s party. Democrats across the political spectrum — from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to President Biden — support the bill. So do conservative Republicans like Sen. Chuck Grassley.

There’s no reason for Schumer to wait. It is time for him to take action and defend competition, workers’ rights and fair markets. We the people, the ones these companies depend on day after day, will not stop until this battle is won.

Smalls is the president of the Amazon Labor Union.