by Ben Adlin
Amazon opened a new grocery store in the heart of the Central District this month, a sign for many longtime residents of the uncertain future facing what was once the established core of the city’s Black community.
The Central District location is Washington State’s second Amazon Fresh — the retail behemoth’s new line of full-size grocery stores — and the first to open its doors in Seattle itself. The chain, which launched its first store in Southern California late last year, now has 17 locations nationwide.
“We’re thrilled to bring the first Amazon Fresh grocery store in Seattle to the Central District, providing customers with a wide selection of low-priced, high-quality fresh foods and a convenient in-store shopping experience,” David Nielson, regional manager of Amazon Fresh grocery stores, said in a statement. “We’re proud that this store has brought hundreds of great jobs to the area and we are committed to continuing to contribute positively to the community.”
In moving into the historic intersection at 23rd Avenue South and South Jackson Street, however, Amazon Fresh has put itself at the center of a decades-long conversation about gentrification and displacement, which have splintered the neighborhood’s Black residents and businesses. Some who were born and raised in the Central District see Amazon as a potential partner — even a good neighbor, if the company lives up to its promises — while others harbor deep distrust of a brand seen widely as a symbol of Seattle’s growing exclusivity.
“Amazon’s here, the neighborhood’s been gentrified,” Reginald Dennis, who was born in the Central Area in 1959 and has lived there nearly all his life, told the South Seattle Emerald. “It just seems like more of what the neighborhood has already been through.”
Continue reading New Amazon Grocery Store Sets Up Shop in Heart of Seattle’s Central District
by Megan Wildhood
(This article originally appeared in Real Change News and has been reprinted with permission.)
Amazon owes the U.S. government $1.5 billion in taxes. Instead of paying that bill, it got a $129-million tax rebate in 2018 and continues to bully the cities that house its ever-growing number of warehouses for tax breaks, secret deals, and immunity from regulations that protect residents (such as the more than 50,000 Seattleites who work for it). A large percentage of its revenue, which totaled $11.5 billion in 2018, comes from government contracts. It skirts safety and seems to think humans are robots who exist to do nothing but gobble up more and more jobs, which of course pay so little that those “robots” (the majority of whom are contractors, not employees) qualify for food stamps. Workers sustain major injuries and even die violently on the job — but many of them “don’t blame the company.”
After reading Alec MacGillis’ Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America, I wondered what it would take for people to start blaming the company. While there is mounting dislike of Amazon in what MacGillis calls Seattle 3.0 (after first discussing the original two iterations of the city), efforts to curb, regulate, or at least mitigate the damage done by Amazon have been insufficient.
Continue reading Book Review: ‘Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America’
by Mark Van Streefkerk
A video storytelling campaign was launched at the beginning of this month to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage. “Our Stories Are Your Stories” (OSAYS) is a growing video collection of short oral histories from AAPI people of all walks of life in the greater Seattle area. Coinciding with AAPI Heritage Month, another goal of OSAYS is to help dispel harmful misconceptions about these diverse communities and create empathy as a response to the disturbing trend of anti-Asian violence and xenophobia.
Notable Seattle athletes, artists, actors, and community leaders like Doug Baldwin, Dr. Vin Gupta, Hollis Wong-Wear, Gary Locke, Lana Condor, Yuji Okumoto, Lauren Tran, and more have kicked off the campaign by contributing their stories — and OSAYS expects more to come. The oral histories don’t have strict guidelines but primarily explore the questions, “What does it mean to be Asian American or Pacific Islander?” and “How does identity inform your life?” Anyone from the AAPI community is encouraged to contribute. The OSAYS videos will become part of the Wing Luke Museum’s oral history archives.
Continue reading ‘Our Stories Are Your Stories’ Video Collection Celebrates AAPI Heritage
by Alex Gallo-Brown
Last week, votes from the largest union election in recent American history — both in terms of the number of eligible workers and the media hype surrounding the campaign — were counted, and the results weren’t pretty if you’re a fan of workplace democracy, economic justice, or collective action. Only about 55% of the 5,800 eligible workers at the Amazon distribution center in Bessemer, Alabama, cast votes in an election that dragged on over the course of seven weeks. Of the 3,215 workers who did vote, only 738 chose to certify the union; 1,798 elected not to. Hundreds of additional ballots weren’t even counted, since they belonged to workers whose eligibility was contested and whose votes would not have changed the outcome, anyway.
It was a devastating outcome for organized labor, according to the national press, after weeks and months of optimism that the pro-union workers might succeed. For many who were on the outside, stories of insufficient bathroom breaks, erratic scheduling, low wages (relative to other warehouses in the area), and general job insecurity made the case for the union a slam dunk. That about 85% of the workers at Bessemer are Black and a majority women in an area of the country with a long history of civil rights struggle only added to the excitement. The workers would win in Bessemer and create a spark throughout the country, galvanizing low-wage workers everywhere to rise up and demand liberation from the conditions that have oppressed them. After decades of decline, labor unions in the U.S. would finally be reborn.
Continue reading OPINION: Loss in Bessemer Was the Beginning, Not the End, of Organizing Inside Amazon
The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.
We also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.
Morning Update Show — Wednesday, April 14
Derek Chauvin Trial Update | Officer who killed Daunte Wright charged | PCC protests over Board vote | Amazon eyeing Rainier Valley County | Exec calls for Sheriff resignation
Continue reading The Morning Update Show — 4/14/21
by Guy Oron
On Friday, April 9, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that the vote to form a union at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama had failed. The historic campaign, which would have made the warehouse the first unionized Amazon workplace in the United States, lost by 738 votes in favor to 1,798 against, with an additional 505 ballots being challenged.
The result comes after several months of intense campaigning by both sides. Joining the pro-union side was a broad coalition of Democratic, labor, and progressive voices from across the country, including sitting president Joe Biden. However, the unionization drive was met with intense backlash from Amazon. The company was accused of employing a variety of union-busting tactics, including holding anti-union meetings during working hours, paying workers to quit so that they aren’t able to vote, and pressuring USPS to install a mailbox at the warehouse where voting could be monitored by Amazon officials.
Continue reading Local Workers and Labor Leaders React to Alabama Vote to Reject Amazon Union
by Luke Schaefer
Where there once stood a historic Seattle ballpark, land that’s now home to the Rainier Valley Lowe’s hardware store may soon be leveled once again to make way for an Amazon distribution facility.
Despite being re-zoned to accommodate dense, affordable housing and small businesses, concept documents filed with the City this week suggest that the Lowe’s property on Rainier Avenue South could soon host a 68,000 square-foot distribution center and a small ocean of parking spaces. The Pepsi plant north of Lowe’s is also part of the proposed reconstruction and it appears as though a deal with Amazon would involve the use of both properties.
Continue reading Amazon Eyes Site of Rainier Valley Lowe’s for New Distribution Center
by Guy Oron
Over 150 people gathered this Saturday, Feb. 20, to protest in solidarity with Amazon warehouse workers and against the crisis of housing affordability in King County. The protestors gathered outside the Renton offices of the Washington Multi-Family Housing Association (WMFHA), a landlord lobby group, before marching to the Amazon Flex warehouse, also known as DSE5.
The demonstration was organized by a coalition of local activist and labor groups, including the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America (SDSA) and MLK Labor (also known as the King County Labor Council). Organizers coordinated the action in coordination with a national day of solidarity in support of workers at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, who are trying to unionize. Workers at the Bessemer warehouse are currently voting on whether to form a union, and if they prove successful, the facility would become the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the United States.
Continue reading Protestors Rally in Renton in Support of Alabama Amazon Workers
by Nathan Chau
Growing up, I was very involved with the people and happenings around me. I was always aware of my surroundings; coming home from Head Start at Dunlap Elementary School right off Cloverdale and Henderson, I paid close attention to the street signs, the houses, and all of my classmates on the bus. But the South End of Seattle hasn’t been looking the same as it did 10 years ago. More and more of the small businesses I grew up around — like Hong Kong Seafood, Pho Bo, and Randy’s Restaurant off of East Marginal Way — are starting to disappear. And I’ve also started to notice more and more blueprints being posted saying “New Modern 2-story Townhomes” and images of new condos and apartments being built.
Why, you may ask? Gentrification.
Continue reading OPINION: A Youth’s Perspective On Gentrification