Thursday , May 13 2021

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, the two richest people in the world, face a common challenge – unions

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk They alternate in positions of the richest man in the world, depending on the price of their main assets: Amazon, a virtual cathedral of consumption, founded in 1998 by Bezos, and Tesla, gossiping Musk, one of the co-founders, in 2003, among whom she c ‘ is today the most valuable car company in the world, thanks to the primacy in the production of electric vehicles.

Both companies have strong competitors. Bezos has to deal with Walmart, the largest “retailer” in the U.S. that is committed to robotization and online sales to keep Amazon from eating part of its business, and leaders in some regions such as Alibaba in Asia and Mercado Libre in the south . America. Musk faces the challenge of longtime rivals, like a Volkswagenand bold technical projects, arising even from their own bowels.

However, now Bezos and Musk, or rather, with Amazon and Tesla, have a common problem: attempts to unite, which contradict their business models.

Amazon’s case is better known: on Monday, the 26th, a public vote was closed to form a union at its order processing plant in Bessemer, which nearly 6,000 employees were authorized to vote and the result of which will be disseminated for a month and even longer to determine the implications of the result. The debate involved not only unions but also the President of the United States, Joseph Biden, who criticized the campaign’s efforts to thwart unions, Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders and even Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the closest to Donald Trump.

So far, Amazon has managed to win attempts at its own plants in the U.S., as none of the union votes touched even 50% plus one of the required votes. This is largely because he pays a minimum hourly wage of $ 15, which is more than twice the legal minimum. $ 7.25, operating in the north since 2009. In addition, Bezos himself campaigned for the U.S. Congress to raise the minimum wage by law to $ 15, which exceeds the minimum payout of Walmart, the main competitor.

The main reason why Amazon is resisting its employees ’organizations is that it will reduce its ability to quickly adjust its paycheck, both increase and decrease it, amid changes in demand and the flexibility that underlies the rapid response of the job market. US at the level of economic activity

Demonstration of unions in front of the Amazon plant in Alabama.  REUTERS / Lucy Nicholson / File
Demonstration of unions in front of the Amazon plant in Alabama. REUTERS / Lucy Nicholson / File

Tesla vs. IG Metall

Ahead of Tesla is a similar challenge, but the game is away. He is building a mega-plant in the city of Grunheide, near Berlin, and IG Metall, Germany’s main trade union with 2.2 million members, is demanding adherence to collective agreements in the automotive sector.

IG Metall represents metal structures in the automotive and other industries and jointly negotiates general industry employment contracts with the employer and the industry business group, rather than with each individual firm as is done in the United States. The system gives a lot of power to the unions. But German law does not oblige companies to join any employers, and Tesla is not interested in participating in this associative habit of German companies and is forced to negotiate salaries while sitting on the same side of the table, for example, with Volkswagen.

So far, it has ignored IG Metall’s invitations to dialogue and canceled a union strike at Tesla Grohman Automation, an engineering company it acquired in 2016, but has managed to avoid collective bargaining by improving pay and labor opportunities. The purchase of shares (Amazon also far from resisting the attempts of the unions at its plants in Germany, despite the insistence of Verdi, the Union of German Services).

The bet between Tesla and IG Metall is crucial for both parties. If it fails to twist Musk’s hand, the union will lose influence at a time when automakers are turning to electric vehicles, which requires about 30% fewer workers than traditional combustion engines. Arthur Wheaton, an expert in the automotive industry and industrial and labor relations from Cornell University (USA) in Business Insider Spain.

If it fails to twist Musk’s hand, the union will lose influence at a time when automakers are turning to electric car production, which requires about 30% fewer workers than traditional production.

According to Wheaton, IG Metall’s main weapon for putting pressure on Musk is blocking and delaying the construction of the Tesla mega-plant near Berlin, which is already accumulating delays due to environmental and bureaucratic problems by teaming up with environmental groups. It is important for Tesla to increase the number of cars produced annually: it aims to reach 500,000 in Europe alone (that is, what it produced worldwide last year) and produce new batteries there, the main task being to keep the lead safe from siege. Volkswagen, which aims to produce up to 20 million electric vehicles in 2024.

Image of the initial stage of construction of the Tesla megafactory in Gruenheide, near Berlin REUTERS / Hannibal Ganschke / File Photo
Image of the initial stage of construction of the Tesla megafactory in Gruenheide, near Berlin REUTERS / Hannibal Ganschke / File Photo

Local and visitor

Meanwhile, Amazon is even getting harder to play at home. Last week, he apologized for his response to criticism that some of his staff did not even have time to go to the toilet, and they had to urinate in bottles at their workplaces due to the intensity of the tasks.

Faced with these allegations, the campaign persecuted a Democratic lawmaker, Mark Pocan, who charged them with this, saying that if that were true, no one would want to work for Amazon, which has 950,000 employees in the US alone. But had to back down after several suppliers hired through third parties and who aren’t actually Amazon employees, said they really needed to urinate in bottles because delivery routes for orders were very tight, with up to 198 deliveries in different places on the same day, which didn’t give them time to stop anywhere to go to the bathroom. Amazon explained that the phenomenon is partly due to the fact that many stations and bars in the US have limited their services due to care protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic. But finally, he apologized for his ironic response to Pokan, which he said was a “goal down”.

Definitely to locals or visitors, Amazon and Tesla are making them more sophisticated. According to football coaches, the most difficult thing is not to get to the top, but to stay.


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