Fred Wang

Fred Wang is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s news and commentary, TikTok has a work culture problem; Amazon fires managers after historic union victory; and unions rally ahead of the 2022 election season.

TikTok has a work culture problem, according to a recent exposé in the Wall Street Journal. Employees have complained of sleep deprivation driven by weekend workloads and hours of late mandatory meetings with overseas colleagues. Others have reported health problems such as weight fluctuation and severe emotional lows. Of course, long hours, stress, and demanding deadlines are problems in many workplaces. But several employees who have worked elsewhere in the tech industry claim that TikTok is different. A good deal of work at TikTok consists of adapting products developed in China for American audiences, which therefore requires long meetings with managers in Beijing. The company frequently assigns multiple teams to work on the same project, having them race to see which can finish it most quickly. It also has a policy against employees accessing internal organization charts, which has created internal communication problems. The result is a culture of stress and secrecy “to a degree uncommon in the industry.”

On Thursday, Amazon fired over half a dozen senior managers involved with its JFK8 warehouse — the same warehouse that had won a historic union last month — according to a recent report in the New York Times. The managers had been in charge of implementing the company’s response to the unionization efforts. Various commentators described the firings as Amazon sending a strong message to its other managers: “Lose a union election and we will fire your ass.”

Unions are doing their part this election season, a recent piece in the New Republic explains. Across the country, union leaders are rallying workers to vote in this year’s upcoming federal midterm, state, and local elections — in an effort not only to stave off anti-worker legislation, but also “to reserve some semblance of majority rule.” As Republican legislatures continue to gerrymander district maps, it has become increasingly difficult for average citizens to select their leaders. Robust political science literature has long documented the “big role” that unions can play as mobilizers in elections.

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