People Over Prime: TikTok Creators take on Amazon

On Tuesday, August 16, 2022, seventy Tik Tok creators with a following of more than 51 million users, launched the pro-Union campaign, People Over Prime, to support the demands of the Amazon Labor Union. Organized by Gen Z for Change, the press release said: "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. Until the following demands — set by the Amazon Labor Union from JFK8 and LDJ5 warehouses — are met, we will refuse to monetize our platforms for Amazon, including all direct Amazon sponsorships and usage of Amazon's storefront."

An influential new political formation, Gen Z for Change "is a nonprofit organization leveraging social media to promote civil discourse and political action among our generation. Partnering with influencers, activists, and celebrities, we produce multimedia content on a variety of topics, including COVID-19, climate change, systemic inequity, foreign policy, voting rights, and LGBTQIA+ issues."

The People Over Prime pledge:

"Until the following demands—set by the Amazon Labor Union and LDJ5 Amazon workers—are met, we will prevent Amazon from monetizing the largest social media platform in the world:

  • $30 an hour minimum wage
  • Better working conditions, including:
    • Two paid 30-minute breaks and an hour-long paid lunch break
    • Better medical leave
    • Additional paid time off and eliminating productivity rates that require workers to pick a certain number of items an hour
  • Complete halt of any and all union-busting tactics used by Amazon in the past, including:
    • Compulsory anti-union meetings
    • Promising better pay and benefits to employees if they voted against the union
    • Threatening with worse pay and benefits or termination to employees if they voted for the union
    • Addressing specific issues employees have if they promised to vote against the union"

Technology is a tool for political organizing. Video cameras as self-defense weapons film the violence of the state and the police. During the Arab spring, Twitter became a vital communication and networking tool for organizing gatherings and protests. These communication technologies have been a central tool in amassing large amounts of people, putting pressure on corporations, and generally sharing the joy of political activity.

It is worth noting that though these social media platforms were useful, they are not the only catalyzing technology, nor is their impact neutral. As reported by Al Jazeera, "Yet, Big Tech corporations have insidiously used the myth of social media as an 'Arab Spring platform' to their benefit to expand their user numbers, boost engagement, and provide a veneer of respectability to their flawed business models. They have also employed it to counter criticism and efforts to impose regulation on them and to disregard frequent demands and campaigns by Arab civil organizations and digital rights activists to protect online privacy and the right to free speech."

As workers across industries — from rail transportation to baristas, to warehouse workers and cannabis workers, people are coming together to form new unions to defend their rights and dignity. Their supporters are using technology for creative forms of solidarity, learning from past movements and helping to imagine what might be coming next. In 2021, Gen Z for Change planned a similar campaign to support Starbucks and Kroger workers. People over profits seems to be the perspective Gen Z is asking be reconsidered.