✍️ Will Amazon workers unionize? - The Hustle
The Hustle

✍️ Will Amazon workers unionize?

We know at least one thing that had a great Christmas: The new Spider-Man film (“No Way Home”) became the 1st pandemic-era movie to make $1B+ at the box office.

Today’s rundown:

  • Amazon shake-up: A labor settlement may pave the way for Amazon warehouse employees to unionize.
  • Storage space boom: Occupancy at the 4 largest self-storage companies in the US has hit 95%+.
  • By the numbers: Hotline bling, potty mouths, and more.

Around the web: A deep dive into Tamagotchi, stunning astronomy pics, and more wild internet things.

Let’s do it.

The Big Idea

Amazon settles a major labor complaint. Workers may now be able to unionize

Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in 1994.

One of the original names he picked for the company was — this is not a joke — “relentless.”

While good taste prevailed in the end, Amazon has pursued a relentless strategy in all facets of business…

… including against worker unionization

However, things may soon change after the company reached a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last week, per NPR.

This result comes after Amazon warehouse workers — in 6 separate cases — told the board that the ecommerce giant was blocking union organizing efforts.

Amazon interference was a major talking point following a (failed) union vote at an Alabama warehouse last April.

The road to unionization?

According to NPR, Amazon will change its union stance by:

  • Emailing current and past employees (anyone who worked between March 2021 and now) about their right to organize
  • Creating more room for unionization activities within its buildings
  • Not threatening or disciplining workers for organizing in “exterior non-work areas during non-work time”

Further, the NLRB will have a straightforward path to suing Amazon if it doesn’t abide by this nationwide settlement.

Unions have been trending down for decades

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 20% of US workers were union members in 1983. Today, it’s only 11%.

But, Amazon — with 750k employees — is a clear bellwether as the 2nd largest private employer in America after Walmart.

The settlement comes as workers at other companies (e.g., Kellogg’s, John Deere) have organized high-profile strikes, and could lead to relentless change for unionization in America.

Fun fact: Bezos still owns the URL to www.relentless.com and it redirects to… well, you can probably guess.


Ouch: Chinese ecommerce firm JD.com tanked after Tencent — a $500B+ Chinese social firm — announced it was “giving away” its stake in JD.com to its shareholders. #ecommerce-retail

Case studies: What China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh can teach us about clean energy. #clean-energy

Massive round: Leading Indian fintech firm Razorpay raises $375m at a $7.5B valuation. #fintech-crypto

Not so fast: Meta (AKA Facebook) is appealing the UK’s move to block its acquisition of Giphy. #big-tech

Storage Gold

Which one has the mummified leg? (Getty Images / Imaginima)

Storage units saw unprecedented business due to the pandemic

Self-storage has boomed since the onset of the pandemic, resulting in higher rent, less empty space, and rising stocks, per The Wall Street Journal.

The industry’s 4 largest companies — Public Storage, Extra Space Storage, Life Storage and CubeSmart — have reached 95%+ occupancy. The average monthly rent hit $155.65 in November — the highest in 5 years.

Meanwhile, Extra Space Storage’s shares are 2x more valuable than they were pre-pandemic.

What’s causing this?

Several things, including:

  • People who want extra space for home offices, gyms, etc.
  • Remote workers who moved
  • Businesses with extra inventory
  • Businesses that ditched offices to save on rent

In addition to 5 public companies, there are also 30k+ storage owners operating ~55k facilities in the US, per The New York Times.

The business is appealing due to its low overhead and tenants who often stay put, even when rent increases by 10%.

And when tenants don’t pay, their units’ contents are auctioned off

While bidders typically don’t know what exactly is in a unit, flipping units can be a decent side hustle — hence the premise of the “Storage Wars” franchise.

Some of the weirdest buyer finds include:

  • A 1976 Lotus Esprit used in the Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.” The unit was purchased for $100 in 1989. Elon Musk later bought the car for ~$1m.
  • The 1st Superman comic, which someone stole from Nicolas Cage in 2000.
  • A mummified leg, which turned into a legal drama between the leg’s original owner and the buyer who wanted to keep it. Yes, there is a documentary about this.

Sure, why not?


The James Webb telescope is in space, facing “29 days of terror” (Source: NASA)

By the numbers: Hotline bling, potty mouths, and more.

1) In July, the federal government is switching National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from a 10-digit number to a 3-digit one, 988. Calls are expected to increase as a result, so $282m will be spent to bolster network infrastructure, centralize text chats, improve Spanish-speaking capacity, and increase staffing.

2) The 7-ton, $10B James Webb Space Telescope, which successfully launched this past weekend, now faces 29 days of terror where its scientists will nerve-wracklingly watch its instruments unfold and deploy.

3) WTF? One study found that from 2019 through November 2021, usage of swearwords  like f—, sh*t, a-hole, and similar terms rose 41% on Facebook and 27% on Twitter. Along these lines, in the past 18 months, profanity-filtering software company CleanSpeak tripled its filter volume.

4) Retail back? Holiday sales jumped 11% vs. the pre-pandemic 2019 season (Nov. 1 through Dec. 24). These figures are particularly bullish considering Omicron fears and supply chain issues.

5) Amazon estimates 25% of US homes have at least one Alexa device. At the same time, internal data shows 15%-25% of new Alexa users are inactive by their 2nd week of owning a device.

Free Resource

Use these viral TikTok marketing strategies

2021 is marked by drone dancing, dog painting, and sea shanties. This is just what world history looks like now.

Gen Z’s favorite platform is also the most downloaded app of the year, so HubSpot compiled key takeaways to help you start the next one in stride.

Tips for exceptional TikTok marketing (video)

Examples from Chipotle, Converse, and more.

TikTok is disrupting the creator economy and global marketing landscape in unprecedented ways.

Learn top 2021 TikTok strategies for your business, and how to create bite-sized clips that win over the internet.

(Also, here’s a free 2022 Social Media Trends report by Talkwalker and HubSpot to get ahead.)

TikTok tactics →

🎺 On this day: In 1932, Radio City Music Hall opened in New York City. While opening night was a chaotic jumble of too many performers, the venue would ultimately become home to the famous Rockettes.

👀 Useful: Looking for a rare item? Use SearchTempest to search all of Craigslist, eBay, and more at the same time.

💫 That’s cool: Every day, NASA shares 1 astronomy picture here.

🎨 Art: The Rijksmuseum’s online exhibit, “Experience the Night Watch,” lets you explore absolutely everything about Rembrandt’s 1642 painting.

🥚 That’s interesting: Smithsonian Magazine reflects on the 25-year history of Tamagotchi and the devoted fan base the toy’s maintained.

🦜 Aww: And now, a bird that’s just stomping around, hating on paper towel rolls.

Pic of the Day

Very clear messaging (Source: Memes Monkey)

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