Via America’s Lawyer: Internal communications reveal Amazon employees are subject to horrific working conditions, forcing delivery drivers to relieve themselves in plastic bags and bottles while on the job. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more. Also, GA governor Brian Kemp enacts a voting bill being criticized for ushering in a “New Jim Crow” era. Investigative journalist Greg Palast joins Mike Papantonio to break down the latest in state-sponsored voter suppression.
*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.
Mike Papantonio: As Amazon tries to block the formation of a union in Alabama, more horror stories about how badly the company treats the workers have emerged. Joining me to talk about it is Farron Cousins from the trial lawyer magazine. Farron, as I look at this case, to me, you’re talking about a multi-multi billionaire who has built a, he’s built a company that really it’s going to take an awful lot to shake it up. It doesn’t take that much to give the employees the right to be able to use a restroom or to make a little more money. This, this is just something that’s, just the story’s getting uglier by the day the more we learn about Bezos. Don’t you agree?
Farron Cousins: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it’s, you know, what we’re learning right now is actually just more about the company’s dirty tricks, you know, not just with the, the attempt to unionize down there in Alabama, but just overall in general, what this company has been up to. First of all, they’ve got this army of online trolls right now, going around, trying to trash Bernie Sanders, trying to trash any Amazon critics. They’re posing as workers of Amazon, but they’ve all been basically exposed as these, you know, spam accounts that Amazon created behind the scenes. Jeff Bezos is furious about all the negative publicity that they’re getting, and he has ordered people to go out and do these things. Do these Twitter accounts. Work on the public relations angle, by trying to say things aren’t as bad as say, workers having to defecate in bags or pee into bottles. But we now know, thanks to great reporting from the interstep, Intercept, Ken Klippenstein, those are true. And Amazon knows that they have been treating their workers this poorly, that they’ve been forced to go to the bathroom in bottles and bags, because they have internal documents showing that they knew this was happening. So it’s all across the board, just horrible what they do.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah. It’s not a legend anymore is your point. And it, it, when these stories first emerged, you know, you thought, okay, well, this is, this is an isolated incident here and there. But now you have drivers reporting that they always use bottles to, to relieve themselves and they, they have to leave the bottles on the truck throughout the day, just so they can take a break, a restroom break. You know, as, as I, as I think about this case, he’s probably spending millions to try to put his finger in a hole in the dike that’s getting ready to break, because once the unionization starts, it’s going to start throughout the country. So, I mean, don’t you just build around the inevitable and say, this is going to happen. Let’s go ahead and maybe I won’t make as many billions of dollars next year. Maybe I’ll lose, you know, a net worth of half a billion dollars. But don’t you just say, it’s time to do something and we have to rethink we’re doing?
Farron Cousins: Well, you would, I would. But, you know, we’re people that actually have a moral compass. I mean, we have to understand at this point, Jeff Bezos, what’s his net worth, I think $180 billion, the richest man on planet earth and he still doesn’t want to pay to give people an extra 10 minutes to go to the bathroom. We’re dealing with unfettered greed, the likes of which we have not seen in this country or, or on this planet ever. I mean, the, the amount of money he would have to pay just to give these workers decent benefits is absolutely minute compared to how much money he is hoarding. Like he’s, you know, the dragon from the Hobbit. I mean, that’s what we’re talking about here. That’s the kind of money this guy is hoarding away and he won’t pay to treat his workers fairly to give them decent benefits.
Mike Papantonio: So he thinks that he can win the war in social media by having these Amazon trolls go on, you know, go on all the sites, whether it’s Twitter or Facebook, whatever, and, and just use that vehicle to turn this around. It’s not looking like that’s successful at all. As a matter of fact, now that people are finding out that he’s behind all this, that he’s spending millions of dollars hiring law firms to do dirty tricks, to go after people who are his critics, you know, that, that has a tendency to blow up in your face and it seems like that’s already happening. Has that just begun? Where do you see it, where do you see this going?
Farron Cousins: I, I really do think that this has just begun now and people are starting to pay more attention and that’s the best part of all of this. You know, people didn’t necessarily care so much when it was, oh, maybe they’ll get a union. Maybe they won’t. That’s kind of boring to the public. But once we see this multi-billionaire, richest guy on the planet, engaging in these tactics that other corporations do as well, by the way, suddenly it becomes an international story and people get a clear glimpse of what’s actually happening.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah.
Mike Papantonio: A new voting law is being dubbed the New Jim Crow, it’s caused a media frenzy and actually resulted in the arrest of a state representative. But anti voter legislation is nothing new in the state of Georgia. Joining me to talk about this is investigative journalist, Greg Palast, who’s been tracking voter suppression efforts for 20 years, and that’s a fact, Greg. I remember interviewing you about 20 years ago for the first time when you started uncovering all this, and you might remember with Air America and it just never stops does it. First things first. Greg, tell us about the significance of this new Georgia law and how it impacts voters. Take us there.
Greg Palast: Well, first of all, let’s begin with the fact that, that Georgia has always been running Jim Crow elections. It’s one of the worst States and I’ve been investigating there for eight years, originally for Rolling Stone and Salon and the Guardian. And now I’m working with black voters matter fund. And, so it’s an old story and now it’s just getting much worse. They panicked because despite everything that they tried, they couldn’t stop Biden, Ossoff and Warnock from winning Georgia, because it is a blue state as Martin Luther King the third told me eight years ago, when I began working there and investigating. He says, you just have to let us vote. Let the people vote. It’s a minority and it’s a white minority state right now and so, what they have to do something simple, eliminate black voters. This new law takes it a new step, a new horrific step down backwards into the Jim Crow darkness.
Mike Papantonio: Okay. How do they do that? We keep hearing that line. This is awful. This is awful. Tell us, what are they doing? Lay out the first specifics about it. What are they doing?
Greg Palast: Okay. I mean, everyone’s heard I broke a story that part of the law is that if you give someone a slice of pizza or a bottle of water, which I witnessed these criminal activity by a Papa John’s pizza pushing gang in Georgia, it is a felony crime, I kid you not, to hand someone, a slice of pizza in a line. Now understand this is Georgia where it’s often pouring rain or, or humid horrid conditions. Why are the lines three, four, six hours long? For example, in Cobb County, they closed 6 of the 11 early voting stations, all 6 in African American neighborhoods. So of course, people then bunch up into the white districts that are left open for voting. The new law, the new law reduces the number of hours for early voting. This will make the election day lines longer. It also severely cuts back on dropboxes because, you know, the postal service has been a nightmare.
So people trying to mail in their ballots, mail them in, you just put them in a dropbox, which are by the way, watched 24/7 by cameras. They’re highly secured. No one’s ever said that there’s an illegal vote put in those boxes. But now they’ve it two things. They’ve reduced the number of boxes by about two-thirds in the big cities. That is, which means voters of color, the color being blue, by the way. And they’ve reduced the number of dropboxes. They reduced number of early voting hours, again, crushing the lines. And even more horrendous, they have now said that any voter and this has been unnoticed so far, Mike, any voter may challenge an unlimited number of other voters challenging their right to vote on whatever specious grounds they come up with. And this is not theoretical. In the 2020 election and then, and then, especially in the 2021 runoff for the US Senate, a group called true the vote, a tea party spinoff, true the vote challenged, are you ready for this, 364,000 voters. They challenged 364,000 voters right to vote, overwhelming.
Mike Papantonio: So, so in the time, okay. In the time we got left, tell, tell, tell the viewers what that means. Do they stop them in line and say, you can’t? Tell us how this works and how it chills the process, if you would.
Greg Palast: Well, what they did was they came up with this cockamamie list and, you know, it used to be you could challenge a voter, but you had to know the voters. Say, oh, that guy doesn’t live here anymore or, you know, he was convicted of a felony or something. They, they removed that restriction. See the, the 346,000 challenges didn’t go through. But now the new law will permit it because you don’t have to know the voter. You just have to say, oh, we see that Jose Garcia that according to the post office, a Jose Garcia moved out of Georgia. Well, Jose Garcia is actually a common name, but not for Republicans. So this is the type of challenge that they’re mounting. We’re talking about a third of a million voters we expect them to challenge. The Republican party has joined in with true the vote on these challenges and they’ve been, and the challenges are now welcomed by the secretary of state of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger.
Mike Papantonio: What, what has been the result of that? If they, if they challenged 360,000 voters, how many of them actually were not permitted to, to place a vote? Do you have a number on that?
Greg Palast: Virtually every challenge, virtually every challenge was thrown out. That’s why they just changed the law. So we don’t know what’s going to, under the new law you can expect a third of a million voters are going to face the chop. And we saw the effectiveness, 340,000 voters were illegally removed just before the 2018 election in which Stacey Abrams supposedly lost to Brian Kemp. This will reactivate that Jim Crow ethnic cleansing of the voter rolls. Very serious stuff.
Mike Papantonio: You know, yeah, state representative to tell you how ugly it gets. State representative Park Cannon, well, he was actually handcuffed right in front, right outside, right outside the governor’s mansion. Tell us about that a little bit. What happened there? Park Cannon being handcuffed.
Greg Palast: That’s the second time. He, what he was trying to do is the governor was holding a signing of the bill, which is usually, you know, it’s a public event by, by law and tradition. They locked the door to the governor’s office and only allowed seven white guys to witness the signing of the bill, I kid you not. So an African-American said, I want to be there when this Jim Crow thing is his pen and they literally busted them. But understand, this is the second bust we have on camera from two years ago and Nikema Williams who is now Congresswoman Williams, she, there were protests against the theft of the election in 2018 in the Capitol, which was a legal demonstration, legal petitioning. And the cops started hustling, arresting people. So Nikema, the, her, the representative for her in the house in the Georgia house came down and said, look, these people are just trying to, you know, present the petition to me and they arrested her. She’s now in Congress. So this is, Georgia is a contact sport. Believe me. This is old stuff that keeps happening again and again.
Mike Papantonio: Greg, listen, we, yeah, we appreciate that you’re out there. Thank you for following this story. We’ll follow it more with you as it develops. Thank you for joining me, Greg. Okay.
Greg Palast: You’re the best.