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Some Streamers Are Boycotting Twitch In Support Of The Amazon Prime Day Strike

Photo: Kiyoshi Ota (Getty)

Unless you've got the world's most powerful ad blocker, you're probably painfully Deals parade naked in the streets and the company hosts glitzy concerts, all to encourage Amazon Prime subscribers to stick around. For the second year in a row, however, some Amazon warehouse workers are striking in the midst of all this; Workers in Germany are striking over unfair pay, while workers in Minnesota are striking over unsafe working conditions. Amazon owns Twitch, and some streamers are boycotting the streaming platform for the next two days as a show of solidarity. For other streamers, though, the situation is so black and white

Last year, warehouse workers in Germany, Poland, and Spain chose to strike during Prime Day. Again, this year, Amazon workers in Germany are striking again, and now, workers at a fulfillment center in Minnesota are joining the strike. "Amazon is going to be one story about itself, which is one of the kindle to your house in one day, isn't that wonderful," said William Stolz, a Minnesota-based Amazon employee and strike organizer, to Bloomberg . “We want to take the opportunity to talk about what it takes to make things work and put pressure on Amazon to protect us and provide safe, reliable jobs.”

Amazon, which is run by the single wealthiest man in the world , finally increased its minimum payment for warehouse workers in the United States to $ 15 late last year, after painstaking campaigns from workers and pressure from politicians like Bernie Sanders. However, many still feel that the company's focus on productivity quotas often comes to blows with basic standards of workplace safety. In addition, workers have to see more temp gigs turn into full-time employment. In addition to the strikes in Minnesota and Germany, protests are taking place in San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and locations in Europe.

Meanwhile, on social media platforms, people are encouraging others to be clear of Amazon-owned products. and platforms like Kindle, Audible, Goodreads, IMDB, Whole Foods, Comixology, Amazon Web Services, and Twitch. During this time period, however, Twitch is also running its own Prime Day event titled "Twitch Sells Out," which may not have been the most amazing name choice in light of the whole strike thing. Twitch describes Twitch Sells Out as a "shopping-style program" in which popular streamers talk up deals in the ever-popular fields of gaming, electronics, and of course, "related products." it means to cross a picket line when the company question has its fingers in a number of pies and you are a contractor on a platform where a couple of days of radio silence can be ruin.

For some twitch streamers, going dark for the

"I think it's really simple to show solidarity to people who have it hard," said Adam "Yoman5" Hernandez a competitive Magic: The Gathering streamer who won't be streaming for the next two days, in a Twitter DM to Kotaku . "A two-day strike did wonders already at Polygon and while that's a much smaller affair, a strike is really disruptive to the company's production and can force the company to actually address Concerns. A boycott in solidarity with the strike can hit Amazon in the only place they care: sales numbers. ”

Josh Boykin a video game critic who regularly streams on Twitch and who's planning to host a Tacoma -themed discussion about mega-corporations on his first day back on Twitch later this week, agreed. "Amazon workers have striked many times beyond Prime Day, but taking these two days off in particular helps give more attention to their collective action and is a small way I can help raise awareness to their efforts," he said to Kotaku in a DM. “I have benefited from being on Twitch, but Twitch and Amazon have both taken steps that negatively affect the health and safety of the people that power their ecosystems. Whether it's streamers experiencing harassment or workers in unfair labor conditions, I think, for those of us who have the ability, it's worthwhile to take some time and make sure we're all thinking about these issues and the many others that come with our work . ”

” Whether it's streamers experiencing harassment or workers in unfair labor conditions, I think, for those of us who have the ability, it's worthwhile to take some time and make sure we're all thinking about these issues and the many others that come with our work. ”

But for some streamers, it's not so simple. Twitch is a platform designed to funnel people down rabbit holes or near-infinite content by way of pages full of algorithmic recommendations, tags, browsing features that encourage you to look around even while watching other streamers, and more. Twitch viewers can be pockety, seemingly prone to seeking out new entertainment (and retracting valuable subscriptions) when streamers aren't rigorously sticking to a regular schedule. Two days off may seem like a lot, but for some streamers who are trying to maintain sustainable viewers or just push for them via things like Twitch's partner program – which requires an average of 75 competitor viewers per stream – it's a bridge too far

Even though Hernandez is striking himself, he says he gets why not everyone would. "Twitch streamers are independent contractors under Amazon with no guaranteed income," said Hernandez. “There are drastic negative consequences on income from taking days off streaming. Even a day or two can really hurt someone's ability to follow and I think it's fair to make them join the strike. Streaming is not my primary income so I can actually take that step and just delay my usual Monday stream to not coincide with the strike and boycott, but I know the harsh realities of streaming and the compounding effects of a day or two off compared to other jobs. ”

It's worth noting that few top streamers are supporting the boycott, despite almost having the means and bandwidth to do so. A whole host of bigger streamers, meanwhile, are participating in the Twitch Sells Out event. Kotaku reached out to a handful of them to ask if business bonds compiled them to do so in spite of the strike, but did not hear back as of this publishing.

There's been no small amount of discontent directed at streamers who've been to go live despite the strike. This has led to calls for people to understand where some streamers are coming from.

"If you are involved in the Amazon strike, please do not punish twitch streamers for working," said PinkuShika, an artist who's streaming today, on Twitter . “Many use it as a platform to earn income, pay bills, and buy food. Most people have other sources of steady income, like artists! Taking a break is not an option for some. ”

Adam Koebel a tabletop-focused streamer who often speaks up about workers' rights, initially expressed this viewpoint in even stronger terms, saying on Twitter that people should "buy shit for cheap today if it makes you happy, or boycott Amazon altogether" and apply a similar approach to Twitch, because ultimately "when we eat our comrades alive for not being left enough," corporations and other powerful entities win. In a Twitter DM to Kotaku however, Koebel said that it was deleted his initial tweet because he realized it came across as flippant. What he was trying to convey, he said, was how Amazon has its way into countless elements of our lives both on and offline and how that expresses solidarity more complex than it might initially seem.

“I think what's happening is this deep, weird problem where we want to fight against bad corporate practice (in this case, warehouse worker treatment) and if this were a simpler world, it would be a case of just supporting the strike directly, ”he said. “Because Amazon is so deeply ingrained in our entire internet experience, we're seeing secondary Amazon services like Twitch, and the independent folks who use those services for living, being assigned solidarity violations by association.”

Amazon's domination and the disempowerment of workers etc. in its many tendrils, Koebel explained, puts everybody involved in a position of precarity, to the point that even a simple strike can be a tenuous proposition. This is good for the company and bad for workers who want more.

"I don't have an answer about whether it's ethical or not for any given person to broadcast on Twitch during Prime Day," Koebel said. “I think it's a reasonable thing for people to avoid services provided by Amazon in solidarity. I don't know it's the right choice for every broadcaster to risk their livelihood during that same period. I hope people will consider how they criticize one another for it. I made a badly-expressed point, and I was thankful for the response I got to it and to have the chance to come to it from another angle. Is broadcasting the same as crossing a picket line or buying a new TV during Prime Day? I don't know that I have a concrete answer. ”

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