On Thursday, a coalition of some of America's largest unions representing millions of workers filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to address the exploitation of the Covid-19 pandemic by Amazon.
According to the complaint, the company is using its pandemic Covid-19 to further expand its market dominance.
"We are particularly concerned about Amazon's conduct during the unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," the complaint said.
"OR Amazon exploits the financial despair and turmoil caused by COVID to engage in a new or intensive behavior that further strengthens its market power and dominance. ”
Η complaint presents a series of arguments that Amazon's dominance in e-commerce has accelerated the collapse of physical retail, and allowed it to abuse its market power to undermine competitors, pressure suppliers, exploit them. American workers without the fear of a lawsuit. The company is invading new markets and behaving anti-competitively.
For years, critics have warned of Amazon, which has a very aggressive approach to trade unions, and has slipped out of control in part because the current antitrust framework is outdated and insufficient to handle the company's full scope. .
The complaint warns that Amazon's ability is to use prices as a weapon (either by suppressing prices by offering cheaper products at levels unsustainable to competitors or by changing them using data it collects from consumers) to prevent the growth of competitors and not to lose customers.
The unions claim that sellers are increasingly trapped in Amazon, a platform that he has no problem to impose taxes on sellers to offset the taxes imposed by various governments. Vendors using the platform are at the mercy of unilateral decision-making, but they can not leave.
For example, in April, a research ProPublica found that Amazon's pricing algorithm further traps sellers by increasing the "suggested" inventory levels that third-party sellers at Amazon must have to avoid downgrading sales results. Such a tactic forces suppliers to prioritize Amazon over other retailers, even if they could have better deals, for fear of losing revenue.
The complaint cites another example, the "most-favored nation" clauses - which prohibit sellers from selling their products at lower prices on competing platforms or even on their own websites.
Amazon can then combine this clause with cloud dominance to “deny competing platforms even developers themselves the opportunity to offer lower prices to smaller consumer groups than those who buy their products from AWS Marketplace. "
The union also cited labor concerns as Amazon directly employs "22% of the total national labor market." It is one of the largest direct employers in the United States with a direct workforce of approximately 400.000 people and has employed approximately 175.000 workers during the pandemic, 125.000 of whom are permanent employees. The coalition says Amazon's position as the big employer (sometimes the only major employer in cities) allows it to significantly reduce employee wages.
Earlier this year, before the lockdown took effect, Bank of America estimated that Amazon's share of the U.S. e-commerce market was 44%. The second place, at 7%, was Walmart. Retail trade suffered huge losses in the spring and many companies may never recover, while online sales soared.
Indeed, Amazon and Jeff Bezos they saw their fortunes rise to tens of billions during this pandemic, while millions of others have nowhere to stay and nothing to eat.
"Amazon represents a clear and present threat to American workers and our economy," said its President UFCW International Marc Perrone.
"The company not only refused to acknowledge the full impact of COVID-19 on its employees, but took advantage of this pandemic to increase its market dominance as well as its power over employees in all its distribution centers."