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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 12, 2013 at 7:30 AM

Amazon and German activists dispute on labor

Seattle’s progressivism may not be global

The internet company Amazon's logo is seen behind barbed wire at a logistical center in Rheinberg, Germany. Some activists are demanding the retailer negotiate a union wage contract with its current nonunion work force. (FRANK AUGSTEIN/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The internet retailer Amazon’s logo is seen behind barbed wire at a logistical center in Rheinberg, Germany. Some activists are demanding the retailer negotiate a union wage contract with its current nonunion work force in Germany. (FRANK AUGSTEIN/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The recent protest that took place in South Lake Union at the headquarters of Amazon.com should serve as a reminder to us all that Seattle may not be as “progressive” as we like to believe. Protesting Amazon’s refusal to negotiate a union-wage contract with its currently nonunion workforce in Germany, the protesters implicated Amazon of less-than-standard working conditions in its Germany-based warehouses [“Battle escalates between Amazon, German labor,” Business, March 5].

While the particulars of the working conditions are presented in different lights from different sides of the story, the bigger picture to focus on is the mere possibility that the economic upswing we feel here as Amazon maximizes its bottom line, could in fact be perpetuating the exact opposite effect across the globe.

Seattleites are quite progressive on a micro scale — as can be seen by the careful consideration and pride we put into deciding whether to recycle this or compost that. But do we truly stop and think how our regional businesses, companies that many of us (or our family members and friends) may work for, significantly impact, for better or worse, the lives of others around the world?

–Jessica Muhm, Seattle

Comments | More in Business, Labor, Seattle, Unions | Topics: amazon, Germany

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