How Amazon changed American life during the pandemic

Author Alec McGillis details how the retail giant flourished during the pandemic
6:09 | 04/22/21

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Transcript for How Amazon changed American life during the pandemic
Amazon has had a banner year with the rise in online sales of course due to cove is expanding warehouse operations and adding to its network of distribution centers across the country. While consumers love low prices and fast delivery. Amazon's growing influence from small towns in the halls of power in Washington DC a change nearly every aspect of American life. Alec McGillis an award winning journalist at probe could look up. Writes about the rise of Amazon in his new book fulfillment winning and losing in one click America. Allen who welcome to the show. Now you set out to write a book about the growing disparities between certain being CDs and smaller rural communities across the country how did Amazon come to represent what you wanted to say about that the changing forces in America. Yeah I've been what did you read about these disparities for quite awhile house that's who is incredible gaps that the growing between sore winner take all cities left behind cities and towns in our country. That's a gap that's really not healthy for for either side of cities really. Sergeant Gordon's kind of off kilter and I settled on Amazon for two reasons one is that our sons not a so ubiquitous our country. But it's a very handy threat to kind of teacher around America what we're we come to base or are we lived a daily basis the companies it's everywhere you turn. So it's good metaphor for a the country right now but it's also. Candy frame for this story can quality because it has itself contributed to these disparities. And it Amazon reverend spokesperson Jay Carney has responded to your book in a letter to the New York Times saying in part. The book somehow cast Amazon in the role of villain ignoring the fact that Amazon has been a positive force in the US economy. Creating 400000. Much needed jobs last year alone. The truth is that Amazon has helped lift communities across this country with the industry leading pay and benefits including a starting wage of at least fifteen dollars an hour. And invested billions in covad related initiatives to keep employees safe and deliver for our communities. What's your response to the fact that Amazon has done more than many large employers that. Don't pay that fifteen dollar living wage and who were cutting jobs during the pandemic. I think it's important to put things the broader context first well as far as that. All those jobs were created it's true was extraordinary pasture they're growth 400000 jobs in this country mostly warehouses. We have to keep in mind but those Johnson have replaced those shots replaced hundreds of thousands but millions of brick and mortar retail jobs. One of the biggest chop lost categories in the country in recent years has been reached yells yells percent. I'm and so insensitive replaced once sort of reached a work with another work. As far as the pay goes it's it's true Amazon did raise the age from thirteen fourteen and our fifteen an hour couple years ago. But it's more let's stay at that level since then they took away to two dollar all that they gave to the pandemic. They're all in endemic the other two dollar bonds for workers who took that away just few months later. And you have to think about what this what those but the street levels are being compared to fifteen dollars now we're certainly more than fast food jobs more than minimal wage. But it's is that it's that at a session less than a lot of other warehouse jobs Haiti's case. It's it's less than some of the regional jobs that he's warehouse jobs are replaced as also less than the sort of assembly line work. That this warehouse were often resembles and it's very sort physical taxi nature. That is that this keep these jobs were as good and well keydets the company claims. Would probably wouldn't see 100% turnover a lot of their warehouses wait what does people just don't stated these jobs were. And we saw this week the retail union has gone to the NLRB. An accused Amazon of illegally interfering with efforts by warehouse workers in Bessemer Alabama to unionize. Union leaders contend that Amazon threatened workers with layoffs and even closing the warehouse. If the union vote passed. Now Amazon denies this and says of the union is misrepresenting the facts while this union vote is about one Alabama warehouse. You said that it's a sign of a bigger problem for American labor as you describe in the book how so. Well the other states are so large and fights like the ones when an Alabama the fact is that. The board got him some grows the faster than that are grows the more that it really kind of comes to define working class sleeper in this country and used to be that. That if you were looking for job you had been have a college degree can happen specialist training. You maybe go down she still relatively start treaty or to the shopping mall to get a job. Now increasingly you go to the warehouse this is the Cobb disorder he dominant space for books are actually level labored this country so few analysts doubt Paul swap its search service public jobs in this country and make them more sustainable make it something that people actually. Please can't we ought to have a clear out. You really have to really focused on the warehouse it's because they are sort of what worked out its statement. And you've spent years working on this story seemed clearly understand the effect of Amazon's dominance at. I'm curious how you reconcile this with your own personal be every do you shopping Amazon. I do god because that's where a last resort I don't rule it out entirely. And I and I don't suggest that people to rule it out entirely sermon for some people. It's it's a convenience you know it's these things you can't find elsewhere in recent real quick. What I would. What I do believe though is that coming up off this past year where we embrace the one click approached you know our daily life so so entirely switch subjects remedy. Because the pandemic. That I consider real cost for our communities both but local business is slow tax base just the boats of the sort that that. The geely civic life are the places we live in it does seem very important that we now are not a pandemic that were able to. We're returns were for actual towns cities that we live in return to the physical world around us. All over the shopping and also with our no going back theater going to the movies I just the end Netflix Billy kind of get that intrudes there. Is the place we live and answer it tries all the things that make the atrocities who have been special and and and aunts or get out or are hunkering down. Alex McGillis pay your book fulfillment winning and losing in one click America's available now we thank you so much for your time and insight. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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