Three dozen grassroots advocacy groups opposed to retail giant and tech conglomerate Amazon announced the formation of a new coalition called Athena on Tuesday—just days before the holiday shopping season begins in earnest with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Athena's broader goal, organizers say, is an economy that works for everyone.
The coalition's mission statement takes aim at Amazon and the company's "growing, powerful grip over our society and economy."
"We're going to write new rules so that our economy puts people first, our public officials ensure that no corporation is above the law or too big to govern," the statement declares, "and that our democracy, finally, represents all of us."
Hello World. We are Athena---->a diverse, powerful force of people + organizations working together to stop @Amazon's increasing stranglehold on our economy, democracy, people & planet. Join us at https://t.co/g6CLM5D9x5! #WeAreAthena pic.twitter.com/Q0m2PsVVop— Athena (@athenaforall) November 26, 2019
Thanksgiving week is a busy one for retailers around the country, and Athena plans to use the days leading up to Black Friday to promote actions against Amazon and the company's varied problematic practices, said Taylor Campbell of coalition member United 4 Respect.
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"Athena coalition members will host rallies, forums, and actions nationwide to call out Amazon's long list of abuses," Campbell told Common Dreams in an email, "from workplace injuries to its continued business relationship with ICE, increasing influence over elections across the country, and destruction of our environment."
The coalition will also use "digital efforts to educate the public and invite more Americans into the fight against corporate power," Campbell said.
"We're taking what we have—the voices of the members of our various organizations, our collective knowledge and experience and deep understanding of the economy around Big Tech, and the experience we've had with making this company shift its behavior—and trying to build a more humane economy," Partnership for Working Families member Lauren Jacobs told The New York Times.
Athena's debut came on the same day that research group the Economic Roundtable published its report (pdf) on Amazon's treatment of host communities for the retailer's warehouses. Titled Too Big to Govern, the report found that while Amazon regularly takes advantage of tax breaks and subsidies, the company does not repay in kind to the communities where it sets up shop.
"It's time for Amazon to come of age and pay its own way," report co-author Daniel Flaming told the Times. "This means paying its full costs to the communities that host it and the workers who create its profits."