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Raises and Bonuses Aren't Enough

Facebook is offering raises to their content reviewers & Amazon is offering bonuses to employees, but they also need a union and health care

Kris LaGrange's picture
May 14, 2019

Facebook and Amazon have become two of the largest companies in the world over the last decade. Amazon is the third largest retailer in the United States while Facebook has over 1 billion daily user.

With this expansive growth, both companies have struggled to meet demand. For Amazon, the challenge has been delivering packages in the shortest amount of time and at the cheapest cost. At Facebook, the social media giant needed to figure out how to pick out banned content like violence, child pornography, and other objectionable materials.

To solve its delivery problem, Amazon began rolling out their own delivery service. However, interest in becoming a delivery driver for the company has not kept up with demand. To incentivize more people to start delivering, Amazon announced on Monday a new program that will offer current Amazon employees a $10,000 bonus if they quit their jobs and start a delivery business. The $10,000 is meant to go towards startup costs for the new business. People who decide to do this would also be allowed to lease Amazon vans adorned with the company’s infamous smile logo. The expansion of the delivery program is meant to help the company achieve their goal of one-day shipping for all Prime members and make the company less reliant on union shipping companies like UPS and the United States Postal Service. Like many tech and gig workers, the drivers would now be considered independent contractors rather than employees of Amazon. Other non-union shippers like FedEx also classify their drivers as independent contractors, which caused drivers in 20 states to sue the shipping company claiming misclassification. In 2016 FedEx was forced to pay $240 Million to settle the lawsuit.

While Amazon is trying to get their product to consumers faster, Facebook wants to slow it down. As the social network has exploded in popularity, a small portion of their daily users began posting objectionable content.  This included numerous people using the site to live stream murder. In response, Facebook hired hundreds of people to review content that was flagged on the site. However, instead of using employees on the company’s payroll, they contracted out the work with many contractors paying just $15/hr. Over the past few years, turnover has been extraordinary in these positions. Spending all day watching content that most in society would consider highly objectionable has caused many of these employees to become psychologically taxed with some even developing symptoms of post-traumatic stress. On Monday, Facebook announced a new plan to help these content reviewers. Starting salaries will be raised to a minimum of $18/hr and for employees in big cities like New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. contractors will be required to pay $22/hr. They also announced that Facebook is rolling out new tools that will blur out graphic images before they are shown to the content reviewer. They did not address the lack of mental health support that many of these employees need.

The move comes just a week after the Washington Post reported on protests from the companies 15,000 content reviewers over micromanagement, pay cuts, and inadequate counseling support. It also comes a month after Google announced that they will now require contractors to provide health benefits, a $15 minimum wage, and paid family leave. Google owns Youtube which has come under fire from users and advertisers over objectionable content, including allowing ISIS recruitment videos to be posted.  

While pay raises and bonuses are nice, employees also need benefits like mental health care, especially when they are in such an emotionally taxing job. Both Amazon and Facebook can afford these benefits, but they would rather outsource the work and pay their stockholders instead.

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