The Amazon News Twitter account and executive Dave Clark have been lashing out at critics online – just as Alabama workers vote on unionization
Say what you will about the relative merits of the continued existence of Amazon, the humble online bookstore that might end up being the last company in the world at this rate, you might expect all of that accumulated wealth to afford them access to the best and brightest communications professionals in the world. The behavior of the Amazon News corporate account and of executive Dave Clark on Twitter over the past week, lashing out at prominent critics in an uncharacteristically spiteful and petty manner, calls that seemingly obvious proposition into question.
Turns out there may be a good explanation for that. The boss may have taken matters into his own hands.
As reported by Recode, Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, with enough money to do anything he could ever imagine besides this, appears to be behind the change in tone. And it’s not just the pugnacious style of the tweets that have a distinctly Trumpian echo, it’s also the motivation behind them: he doesn’t think the company is punching back hard enough at its critics.
Whether or not the flame war came as a top-down directive, Bezos has good reason to feel on edge of late. Nearly 6,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, are set to vote shortly on whether or not to unionize. The effort, if successful, is likely seen by the company as a harbinger of things to come around the country and the world.
Improving conditions and pay for workers appears to be something which one of the wealthiest corporations in the world – headed up by the richest man in the world – consider an existential threat.
The company has also reportedly engaged in all manner of other intimidation tactics to suppress the unionization effort. But it’s the social media behavior that has garnered the most attention.
“I welcome @SenSanders to Birmingham and appreciate his push for a progressive workplace. I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace,” Clark tweeted on Wednesday, in a series of increasingly aggressive posts.
Following the spat with the Vermont senator, who was on hand in Alabama on Friday to stand with the workers, the Amazon News account turned its attention to Senator Elizabeth Warren, sparring over whether or not the company pays its fair share of taxes, and attempting to cast themselves as the victims being bullied by politicians, another classic Trumpian move.
The shift in posting style was so abrupt it prompted an internal query from the Amazon security team according to Recode. “The tweets, according to the security engineer, ‘are unnecessarily antagonistic (risking Amazon’s brand) and may be a result of unauthorized access’,” they reported.
Whether or not publicly squabbling with two of the more popular and progressive Democrats in the country turns out to be a solid public relations strategy remains to be seen. It certainly isn’t helping to push the unionization effort out of the news cycle.
Sanders himself seems to think it is evidence of panic within the company.
“Jeff Bezos, worth $180 billion, is getting nervous,” Sanders tweeted on Sunday. “He’s afraid that if Amazon workers in Alabama vote to unionize, it’ll give workers all over America the courage to take on his greed & win economic justice. He’s spending millions against this union to keep billions for himself.”