Pledge now, and we'll only ask you to follow through if we reach our 1 million pledge goal.
- Stacy Mitchell, the Sun Nov 2018
- New York Times, September 7 2018
- George Packer, The New Yorker
- former Amazon warehouse manager, Vox, November 2018
- Stacy Mitchell, the Sun Nov 2018
Indeed, Amazon’s dominance has come at the expense of its workers and its host towns, small retailers, suppliers, middle-income jobs, the environment and an open society. And yet, few governments have intervened, workers lack collective power, the Board moves in lockstep with CEO/Founder Jeff Bezos, and, increasingly, most competitors are powerless to stop the company’s relentless advance. That leaves us, the customers, as perhaps the only force that can now compel Amazon to become good.How many Amazon, Whole Foods and Prime customers have to quit before Amazon says “uncle?” We aim to find out.
If you and 999,999 other patrons quit all at once, that represents around $1 billion in lost revenue, per year. Amazon will notice, the media will notice and the world will notice. The pressure to change will be extraordinary—especially because there’s no reason for us to stop at one million.
Boycotts traditionally target a corporation with a single request. This is different. We are asking Amazon to take a deeper look at a wide range of practices that call into question the company’s ﬁtness to be in the center of our lives and communities.We are asking for a soul-searching reckoning by the Board and executives. We are asking Jeff Bezos to prove that he is, in his words, “a missionary rather than a mercenary” and that his empire deserves our patronage.
Support EU and global efforts to coordinate taxes of tech giants and pay fair share of taxes on worldwide income. The company paid no U.S. income taxes on $5.6 billion in domestic profits in 2017 and no taxes on $11.2 billion in 2018 domestic profits. To top it off, Amazon actually reported a $129 million 2018 federal income tax rebate—making its tax rate negative 1%. During the five previous years, Amazon had an effective tax rate of just 11.4%, compared to its traditional retail peers, who generally paid between 35% and 40%.
Amazon has already received more than $1.5 billion in local tax breaks since 2000, is line to get $4.6 billion in subsidies for HQ2 and continues to seek more from local towns. Amazon aggressively gained market share in part by long avoiding the collection of sales taxes. As it became less and less able to avoid collecting sales taxes – because it couldn’t avoid locating warehouses in more states – it learned that it could sometimes extract lucrative taxpayer subsidies for them, and methodically started doing so. Instead of seeing how much you can get from towns, see how much you can give.
Every employee of the world’s most dominant company should earn enough to meet life’s basic needs, at a minimum. In 2017, the United States living wage was $16/hr on average, but in areas with higher costs it was as much as $24.
Experiment to see how distributing some of your new wealth to low-paid workerscan increase their retention, their quality of life and the health of your host communities. You could begin by innovating new ways to pay not just living wages, but family-sustaining wages and offering all employees adequate family and disability leave, health and dental insurance, paid vacations, and retirement security. In 1964, CEO/avg worker salary ratio was 20x. Your net worth increased by $39.2 billion in 12 months and the average Amazon employee earns $28,446. This is a ratio of 1.37 million to one.
Include all employees, both blue and white collar, in every country. Your low-paid workers are often living vulnerable lives in hard towns—uplift them, give them security and inspire them to stay with you. Mistreated executives mistreat those below them as well as the company’s partners and suppliers, causing negative ripples in every direction. Change that culture at the tippy top, and aim to be one of the top ten best places to work in America by 2020.
Start immediately by paying employees for time spent at security checks.If you need low-wage Amazonians to stand in line for a half hour to make sure they aren’t pilfering, it’s probably a sign that you aren’t treating them well enough to begin with. At least pay them for that time.
Encourage workers to whistle-blow on unsafe conditions; remain neutral in any union organizing drives. Unionizing is likely the surest way for employees to be treated fairly and humanely over time.
Of the company’s 18 most powerful executives, 17 are men; among lower levels 74 percent of Amazon executives are white men. You have 10 direct reports, Jeff. Only one of them is female and none is a person of color. Currently, 9 of 11 directors on Amazon’s board are white. Research shows that demographically diverse boards are more likely to challenge the authority of the CEO and improve performance.
Change your corporate bylaws to proscribe that workers elect 40 percent of the membership of your board of directors.Corporate political activity should be authorized specifically by both 75 percent of shareholders and 75 percent of board members.
Begin by dropping Rekognition, the facial recognition software being used by police departments for mass surveillance. Also stop collaborating with towns and police departments to deploy Ring. Such Orwellian, whole-town surveillance is a direct and immediate threat to people of color, immigrants, activists and other vulnerable populations that are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.
Stop selling AWS cloud services to data analytics firm Palantir, who is involved in the operation of ICE's detention and deportation programs.
Crack down on counterfeiting; don’t allow returns of e-books; make it easy for creatives to get their infringed work removed from the marketplace; hire an ombudsman for disputes; improve transparency around account reviews; allow manufacturers to prohibit their products from being sold on your platform by Amazon itself or by 3rd party sellers; stop copying your vendors’ designs.
Right-size boxes; find alternatives to non-biodegradable plastic; develop transparent indicators; share best practices with the industry; disclose ecological impacts of shipping choices to customers during checkout. Pilot electric vehicle delivery in the top fifteen most polluted U.S. cities by 2020, make 100% of shipping carbon neutral by 2021, and go all electric in your delivery fleet by 2025.
Stop selling single use plastics by 2020.Replace oil-based plastics in all Amazon-manufactured products with plastics made from recycled materials by 2020. If Ikea can, you can, too.
Disclose energy use of data centers, become more transparent about sustainability and aspire to earn an “A” on Greenpeace’s electronics report cardin 2019. Amazon received an “F” in 2017 and “remains one of the least transparent companies in the world in terms of its environmental performance.” Use 100% renewable energy for all data centers, fulfillment centers and retail locations by 2020. Make all operations fossil-fuel-free by 2029. For a Just Transition, current Amazon employees must be given the first training and job opportunities for new clean energy operations
Begin by exiting the Oil and Gas business immediately. The existential threat of climate change demands that we put our best thinking into keeping fossil fuels in the ground, not getting them out more profitably.
Audit your entire supply chain annually, report results and engage external organizations and multiple stakeholders, including workers, to monitor and improve supply chain practices. Develop a transparent plan to deal with chronic difficult issues such as whistleblower retaliation, living wages, and freedom of association. Attain Apple’s high level of commitment to conflict mineral sourcing by the end of 2019.
Support an independent logistics certification.Amazon isn’t the only company with brutal warehouse conditions, environmentally harmful shipping practices and abusive relationships with drivers and other employees—just the biggest. Use your size and power to lead the creation of an independent, industry-wide certification body to raise the bar and compel every e-commerce company to do much better.
Stop enabling the spread and financing of violent ideologies by allowing the sale of hate symbols and imagery on the site, including confederate and anti-Black imagery, Nazi and fascist imagery and the newly adopted imagery of the modern white nationalist movement. Amazon has the right to determine what it sells, publishes, and helps to deliver online. It has the resources to ensure its policies are enforced. Amazon has an ethical and moral responsibility to stop delivering hate to the world.
Stop advertising on Breitbart.Your ads support their hate. Join the thousands of other advertisers who have already deserted them.
Lobby for it at the state and federal level and deny services to any ISPs that take advantage of any rules weakening it. Democracy falters in its absence.
Fulfill Good Jobs First and The Institute for Local Self Reliance's comprehensive list of second headquarters requests—from how you treat your employees and pay taxes to how you deal with transportation, housing and small businesses—all beneath an umbrella of accountability and transparency.
Also, share the data.In the contest to secure HQ2, dozens of cities have shared reams of data with Amazon that their own citizens and Amazon’s competitors do not have access to. This includes intel on future infrastructure investments, land use patterns, planned policy changes, and more. Sunlight this data.
Split yourself up into at least three separate companies. Stop anti-competitive subsidizing of money-losing business arms; preempt lawmakers and regulators by peeling off Amazon Web Services and dividing Amazon the manufacturer from Amazon the e-commerce platform from Amazon the logistics company from Amazon the third-party marketplace. License your tech so any competitor can set up a Kindle store to sell e-books.
Stop below cost sellingdesigned to drive competitors out of business or compel them to be acquired by you. Play fair: you’re large and competitive enough without needing to take over companies that don’t want to be bought.
Seek to do well by ALL stakeholders, not just customers and shareholders. You won capitalism! Now win at caring for people, the planet and the future.
Become a certified B-corpand invite a rebel capitalist like Yvon Chouinard or Paul Hawken and a rebel changemaker like Naomi Klein, Barbara Ehrenreich or Reverend William Barber to your board. Have all of your executives read the report Amazon’s Stranglehold: How the Company’s Tightening Grip is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities. Take a step back and organize around becoming a truly ethical and beautiful group of companies that deserve a place in the center of American life and commerce.
NRA-TV closed down so we removed our demand that Amazon stop platforming it. New research has uncovered more ways that Amazon is Big Brothering up, and we're now specifically calling out the cozy and secretive relationships between the surveillance doorbell Ring and police departments around the country. In response to dozens of thoughtful recommendations from supporters, we've updated and added many new listings to the Amazon Alternatives page. Perhaps our favorite new discovery is Libro.fm, an audiobook service that splits profits with your favorite local bookseller.
We're sitting at 113 pledges, celebrating hitting our first goal at the end of week one. We're still holding the reins pretty close and haven't shared the campaign widely yet. Several people have asked us if they could get more "credit" for pledging a business account that spends more than average households do. The answer is yes. For now the process is manual (check out the FAQ) but will soon be integrated. Thanks for all the early support!
It’s a move in the right direction—on one issue out of dozens—that was the result of political and public pressure. For some people in some places, $15/hour might be enough to get by. For most people it isn’t, and we find it unconscionable that such a wealthy company won’t voluntarily do better by its employees. Hence, we seek to apply more public pressure.
Potentially. If your business or institution spends more than $3,000 per year at Amazon and/or Whole Foods please email (firstname.lastname@example.org) us after you've made and confirmed your pledge. In the email include the email address you pledged with, the name and website of your business and an estimation of your yearly expenditures at all Amazon companies. (You can download your Amazon purchase history here.) We'll do some math and update our pledge counter accordingly.
It counts as three because each one has its own associated inconveniences for the pledger and its own revenue implications for Amazon.
No, but we have begun to and will try to steer you towards alternatives that appear to be more ethical based on our research. Also, if we can help change Amazon’s course, even if it means pointing you towards other companies that also have shortcomings, that’s still progress. In the short term, we hope to show there’s a market made up of people who like what Prime offers but are offended by Amazon. In the longer term, we hope to help spur a race to the top. If you’d like to help vet, please share your thoughts on Facebook or Reddit.
That’s great! Once we started to realize how many shortcomings the company has, it became hard to justify the benefits of being a customer. We have enjoyed experimenting with the alternatives, too, in preparation for severing ties completely. We’ll count your pledge the same way, and we’ll soon have a way for you to let us know that you’ve quit.
Even for a company as rich as Amazon, the threat of hundreds of $millions moving to competitors is real. Perhaps more significant is the education and negative publicity that we hope will result from this campaign—we believe the company will look for public ways to do better. Also, once the campaign reaches critical mass, we won’t have any incentive to stop unless Amazon responds significantly.
If Amazon requests negotiation, we will help convene relevant stakeholders to do so. We think the frontline communities most affected by Amazon’s practices and policies are the ones most equipped to decide whether or not agreements should be made or pressure should be maintained.
We support new regulations and better enforcement of existing laws (especially antitrust law, in this case) to hold companies accountable. We also think that a company as innovative and rich as Amazon can go farther in certain ways of its own volition than some regulations will ever realistically compel. For instance, a law that says don’t sell white supremacist books wouldn’t square well with the First Amendment, but Amazon could certainly decide that not selling those books is the right thing to do.
We hope to, and we will always be transparent about it if we do. We are a 501c3 non-profit organization, and will use any revenues to support our mission of building a people powered movement to build a just world that works for everyone.
We will thank them. We will encourage you to throw lots of parties. Then we’ll turn our attention to the next challenge.
We will choose a new, significantly larger threshold and keep building on the campaign, educating more people about Amazon’s shortcomings, moving more customers and their dollars to other more ethical competitors and adding new supporters until our collective economic power is as much of an existential threat to Amazon as Amazon is to us.
We think the sense of accomplishment of participating in something as socially and culturally momentous as compelling Amazon to reckon with its place in the world will be greater than the convenience of sticking with Prime. We are also working on a new tool that will allow you to create activist accountability and support with a group of friends, which will make it more likely that you stay in the game.
Yes, just pledge again with your same email address and it will be changed. You can cancel by not selecting any pledges when you click submit
There’s a list of every one that we know of on the Amazon Alternatives page.
We feel like it’s currently too big of an ask for most companies that are already dependent on AWS and a near impossibility for a web user. But we do encourage startups to look elsewhere before engaging AWS in the first place.
Although Jeff Bezos now owns the Post, the newspaper is not behaving as a monopolist, and it has a long history as a respected institution that does award-winning investigative reporting. It isn’t an Amazon company and mostly doesn’t act like one. That said, in June 2018, employees released an open letter to Bezos, saying that he had ignored their pleas for pay equity and fair raises, despite the fact that they had doubled digital subscription rates and raised page views by over half in a one year period.
We won’t stop you! Just keep in mind that we’ll be encouraging you to maintain mutual support, accountability and close ties with at least two of your recruits.
In short, it’s our project to help mobilize at least 3.5% of the American population in pursuit of deep, profound and sufficient responses to climate change, racial justice, internet freedom, rebooting democracy, economic fairness and gender equality. Read more about why and how on the Threshold About page.
Copyright © 2019 Threshold