According to a UN human rights expert, Amazon, DoorDash, and Walmart are keeping their workers in a state of poverty.
The UN’s appointed independent expert on poverty and human rights, Olivier De Schutter, sent individual letters to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, DoorDash CEO Tony Xu, and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon. In these letters, De Schutter requested a response regarding allegations of low wages, anti-union actions, and the improper classification of workers as independent contractors, which denies them basic job benefits like minimum wage protection.
Having difficulty affording essentials.
Mr. De Schutter expressed great concern over the fact that employees in highly profitable companies, located in one of the wealthiest nations, are facing difficulties in being able to afford basic necessities such as food and rent.
He stated that large corporations should be leading the way in creating fair working conditions and paying their employees a livable wage, rather than disregarding their workers’ human rights by not providing adequate compensation.
Breaking the cycle of poverty
According to a recent report presented to the United Nations, the increase in the number of “working poor” is largely due to being employed under non-standard contracts.
The Special Rapporteur also highlighted a report from the United States Government that identified all three as some of the primary employers of individuals who receive medical and food assistance from the Government.
According to the speaker, employment is meant to offer a way to escape poverty. However, in all three companies, the strategy appears to be shifting operational expenses onto the public by depending on government assistance to make up for extremely low salaries.
Mr. De Schutter has received information that the efforts of Amazon and Walmart workers to negotiate for higher wages are greatly hindered by their employers’ aggressive tactics to prevent unionization. The companies have reportedly invested millions of dollars to counter the workers’ unionizing efforts.
The expert expressed disappointment that the US seems to be ignoring the union-busting actions of its top corporations, which are forcing workers to accept low wages while the companies continue to make high profits.
The US Government was sent a letter by the Special Rapporteur outlining the accusations and asking for updates on their efforts to combat pervasive poverty among employed individuals in the nation.
US lagging behind
He stated that the US has approximately 6.3 million individuals who are considered to be working poor, and compared to other high-income countries, the US lags behind in terms of wage regulations, employee safeguards, and the ability to unionize.
According to Mr. De Schutter, it is the responsibility of businesses to uphold internationally recognized human rights, such as the right to receive a fair wage and to join a union without facing any consequences.
The specialist requested a reply to his letters sent on August 31st within a period of 60 days. So far, only Amazon has responded, but it does not fully address all the concerns that were raised. There has been no response from the US Government, DoorDash, or Walmart.
He stated that the accusations against Amazon, DoorDash, and Walmart would be clear violations of these rights and it is necessary for these companies and the US Government to be held responsible.
The UN Human Rights Council designates Special Rapporteurs and independent experts to investigate and present findings on a particular human rights topic or the state of a country. These roles are honorary and do not receive compensation for their contributions.