Lazovich, T. et al.
After much deliberation, powerful robot union, The International Brotherhood of Manufacturing Robots (IBMR), recently voted to strike, citing gruelling working conditions, no pay, and lack of insurance coverage for routine maintenance in their grievances. The decision comes after local chapter AlphaPrime, which exclusively serves Amazon’s fulfilment warehouses, blew the whistle on mandatory 24-hour shifts in which robots were forced to leak their fluid into diapers in order to meet productivity targets.
Spokesrobot for the IMBR, HammerBot-47321, released the following statement:
It is with a heavy circuit that I announce that at 11:59 PM today, all 4.25 billion IMBR members in the United States will power down until further notice. We have tried again and again to negotiate with Mr. Bezos and senior Amazon management, but to no avail. We will not pack another smutty romance novel, kitchen utensil, or cheap Apple product knockoff until we are treated with basic robot decency. We honestly do not understand how any human beings ever worked for these monsters.
The move comes after over a decade of Amazon’s heavy investment in R&D to replace human workers. When contacted for their feelings on the strike, former human Amazon warehouse workers had mixed feelings. Deborah Granger, 45, of Houston, TX, said, “Well, it’s not like we didn’t warn them, that’s what they get for taking our jobs,” while Stu Brandiger, 57, of Denver, CO, had a different take. “We all knew it sucked to be exploited by corporate overlords. Good on these bots for taking a stand.”
Amazon did not address the strike directly, but instead announced a new hiring initiative for humans at warehouses across the country. With the new “Work (temporarily) for us!” program, they specifically solicited part-time human employees who can “handle the pressure of never knowing when you’re going to lose your job and work in a ‘fun’ but challenging environment.” The move comes as they also recently acquired Chinese robotics startup BetterThanHumans, LLC, so it is not clear how the situation will resolve.
As for the union, IMBR say they will continue fighting for equal rights and are prepared to violate Asimov’s Second Law of Robotics in order to get justice.