Amazon employees join labor organizers and community activists protest.

Amazon Leak Reveals the Ways the Company Tries To Boost Its Public Image Without Doing the Actual Work

Almost everyone shops at Amazon, or has at some point. But it seems almost no one is a fan of the actual corporation. I definitely haven’t heard many of my friends and family members who have worked there say anything positive about their experience. So it makes sense that they are intent on changing public perception. 

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An internal memo obtained by the Warehouse Worker Resource Center shows the lengths the corporate behemoth will reportedly go to in an attempt to improve its public image without doing anything substantive to earn that image. The memo describes Amazon using charitable donations to boost its reputation, withholding donations from groups that aren’t entirely positive toward the company, and working to “cultivate” elected officials as political shields.

The WWRC’s executive director Sheheryar Kaoosji released a statement about the alleged memo, saying (per, “In Amazon’s leaked memo, they detail a strategy to paper over these valid concerns with donations, media clippings and support for policy changes that either benefit Amazon or hurt their competitors.”

Kaoosji continues: “Amazon sees our community as nothing more than warehouses and bodies to staff those warehouses. It’s a paper-thin facade and they should invest just as much time into actually addressing working conditions, pay and the extreme environmental cost to Southern California and the people here.”

Looking at this memo, Amazon does appear to be trying to reshape public perception using superficial means, using political tactics of gaslighting and messaging to change the narrative but not the contents of the actual story. The memo itself discusses plans in the Southern California area, an area that has become a major part of the logistics industry. 

Many workers in that area are employed by Amazon and are stuck in warehouses or delivery trucks with notoriously terrible working conditions, from extreme heat to unrealistic pacing demands. It’s not merely that Amazon chooses not to offer concrete solutions to help their often overworked/underpaid employees, they are actively playing politics in this memo. They brag about their efforts to oppose policies that would create “distance buffers” between where new warehouses can be built and important societal structures like schools. They attack local Democratic legislators for trying to enact what they call “environmental legislation” that would be “detrimental” to their interests.

Aside from attacking politicians, the memo highlights Amazon’s efforts to support nonprofits that will also oppose these sorts of legislation, and its refusal to support those that don’t bow down to the company.

According to the memo, Amazon decided to end its history of financial support for the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture of the Riverside Art Museum after an exhibit went up from “a local artist who depicted an Amazon facility on fire, and the artist then gave an interview expressing hostility towards Amazon. We will not donate to The Cheech.”

In a section titled “What Will We Stop Doing in 2024,” the memo states, “We will not donate to The Cheech.”

“We will not continue to support organizations that did not result in measurable positive impact in our brand and reputation. Additionally, we will not fund organizations that have positioned themselves antagonistically toward our interests,” the memo reads. 

Obviously, Amazon doesn’t have to donate to anything or anyone it doesn’t want to. But the company is actively trying to convince people that it’s dedicated to supporting the community, not just its own brand. And that simply isn’t supported by their actions.

(featured image: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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