Is Amazon's Army Of Contractors Being Exploited This Holiday Season?

Dec 18, 2017

With guest host Meghna Chakrabarti. 

Independent contractors are delivering your Amazon holiday packages. Are they being exploited?

This show airs Monday at 11 a.m. EST.


Bryan Menegussenior reporter for Gizmodo. (@bryandisagrees)

Veena Dubal, professor of law at the University of California Hastings College of Law. (@veenadubal)

Arun Sundararajanprofessor of business at New York University. Author of “The Sharing Economy.” (@digitalarun)

From The Reading List:

Statement from Amazon: “Amazon Flex offers great earnings, flexible hours and the opportunity to be your own boss. Drivers love earning $18 to $25 per hour delivering to Amazon customers and we’ve received overwhelmingly positive response from drivers participating in the program.

At Amazon, the majority of our workforce is made up of regular, full-time employees. We are proud to offer a wide variety of work opportunities, which include full-time and part-time employment; regular and flexible scheduling; work-on-site and work-from-home; or be your own boss through our Amazon Flex program where independent contractors typically earn between $18 to $25 per hour delivering Amazon packages.
We are constantly learning and seeking feedback from our delivery partners, customers, and others in order to make the experience even better tomorrow than it is today.”

Gizmodo: Amazon’s Last Mile — “In terms of size, efficiency, and ruthlessness, Amazon has few equals. The least publicly accountable of the big tech companies—Google, Apple, and Facebook face considerably greater scrutiny—Amazon’s stock is one of the most valuable on the market, it’s among the fastest-growing companies in the United States. Atop its vast empire, CEO Jeff Bezos commands the single largest personal fortune on the planet. Estimates place Amazon as the recipient of approximately one third of all dollars spent online. Control over the manufacture, storage, sales, and shipping of an extraordinarily diverse set of products has led the company to expand into film and TV production, web hosting, publishing, groceries, fashion, space travel, wind farms, and soon, pharmaceuticals, to name just a few. It’s a new kind of company, the likes of which the American economy has never before seen and is legislatively ill-prepared for.”

MIT Press: The Sharing Economy: “Will the sharing economy ultimately represent the rise of the microentrepreneur—a generation of self-employed workers who are empowered to work whenever they want from any location and at whatever level of intensity needed to achieve their desired standard of living? Or will it represent the culmination of the end of broad-based and high standards of living that the United States witnessed in the 1950s and 1960s—a disparaging race to the bottom that leaves workers around the world working more hours for less money and with minimal job security and benefits?” (Chapter 8)

Two days. One day. In some cities, the same day. Amazon is shipping millions of packages across the country this season, and they’re relying on huge numbers of temporary couriers to do it. It’s Amazon’s big push into the gig economy. Workers get flexibility. But they don’t get benefits. Amazon transforms every market it enters – what’s it going to do to logistics and delivery? This hour, On Point: Amazon muscles into the gig economy. —Meghna Chakrabarti

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit