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Young TikTok creators organize campaign against Amazon to support workers' union demands

“I’d like for TikTok creators ... to know that Amazon and partnering with Amazon looks bad because their audience is aware of this campaign,” one organizer said.
Demonstrators rally in support of a union for Amazon workers in Bessemer, Ala., on Feb. 26, 2022.
Demonstrators rally in support of a union for Amazon workers in Bessemer, Ala., on Feb. 26.Elijah Nouvelage / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

A group of TikTok creators said they refuse to work with Amazon until the demands of the Amazon Labor Union are met.

The union, which current and former employees formed independently in April 2021, has asked for a variety of changes, including: a $30-an-hour minimum wage, better working conditions and a halt to what it alleges are the company’s union-busting tactics.

The influencer campaign, which launched officially on Tuesday and is known as “People Over Prime,” consists of 70 TikTokers with a total of more than 51 million followers, according to its website.

The Washington Post first reported news of the campaign.

Gen Z for Change, a nonprofit activist group that helped organize the campaign, said in an online statement that the creators are “calling on Amazon to listen to their workers and make tangible changes to their workplace environment.”

“Amazon’s widespread mistreatment of their workers and blatant use of union busting tactics will no longer be tolerated by the TikTok Community or TikTok Creators,” it said.

Elise Joshi, the deputy executive director of Gen Z for Change, said Amazon knows just how much impact TikTok influencers have. TikTok has 1 billion monthly active users, and Amazon has previously utilized the platform with its Influencer Program — which allows creators to monetize their platforms by recommending Amazon’s products.

“The millions of dollars that Amazon poured into TikTok just shows how much they know that TikTok is powerful, so if they talk to powerful creators, we can take advantage of that, too,” said Joshi, 20.

The campaign came to fruition after the group’s success this year aiding other union organizing campaigns at major retailers like Starbucks and Kroger, Joshi said.

“The idea was to get as many creators as we possibly can on TikTok and that TikTok creators don’t tolerate anti-union corporations like Amazon,” Joshi said.

For teens and young adults, Joshi said, TikTok serves as the best medium to pressure Amazon to give in to the union’s demands, because the app also functions as a news source for this younger demographic.

Amazon has come under increased scrutiny for its labor practices in the past year after it reached settlements with the National Labor Relations Board for violating workers’ rights in places like Seattle and Bessemer, Alabama.

In a statement to NBC News on Wednesday, Paul Flaningan, an Amazon spokesperson, did not address the “People Over Prime" campaign.

"The health, safety, and wellbeing of our employees is our top priority," he wrote in the email. "We’re grateful to all of our employees for their time, talent and hard work every day. We’ve invested billions of dollars in new operations safety measures, technologies and other innovative solutions that protect our employees. We’ve expanded our global workplace health and safety team to more than 8,000 employees across the world who use Amazon’s innovation, technology and data to ensure we are keeping our employees safe. We’re committed to giving our employees the resources they need to be successful, creating time for regular breaks and a comfortable pace of work, and working directly with anyone who needs additional support to meet their goals. We also work closely with health and safety experts and scientists, conduct thousands of safety inspections each day in our buildings, and have made hundreds of changes as a result of employee feedback on how we can improve their well-being at work."

The high approval rate of unions from Americans and the success of the union campaign at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, in April helped contribute to the organization’s decision to launch "People Over Prime," Joshi said.

Aside from pressuring Amazon to meet the union’s demands, Joshi said, she ultimately hopes to dissuade TikTok influencers from continuing to work with Amazon and to raise awareness of other unionization efforts across the country.

“I’d like for TikTok creators, even if they’re not part of ‘People Over Prime,’ to know that Amazon and partnering with Amazon looks bad because their audience is aware of this campaign,” she said.

“I’m also hoping this brings visibility to unionizing warehouses across the country ... and this hopefully is a way to bring light and attention to those efforts to make it just a little bit easier.”

Representatives the Amazon Labor Union did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

But in a tweet responding to Joshi, Derrick Palmer, co-founder of the Amazon Labor Union, wrote, “Thank you for your support. Myself and @amazonlabor appreciate it #Solidarity.”