Unions Petition FTC to Investigate Amazon

Labor unions have petitioned the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Amazon for anticompetitive practice and its “immense and growing influence.” The petition asks the FTC to examine Amazon’s economic impact and if the company’s structure and organization have given it unfair advantages. In total, the unions represent more than 5.3 million people. These groups include the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Communications Workers of America, the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Service Employees International Union.

“Amazon is unique, not only in its current size and growth trajectory, but in the breadth of its interests across markets and its expansion into all levels of the supply chain,” the petition states. “The company demands urgent inquiry, best achieved through the Federal Trade Commission’s unique authority and expertise.”

The unions desire an investigation into Amazon’s size and growth trajectory, its wide array of interests in various markets, and encroachment into various levels of the supply chain. The unions specifically seek an investigation into Amazon’s control over prices, search engine rankings for its own products, the use of competitors’ data on its platforms, and workers’ wages. For instance, the unions have asked the FTC to investigate if Amazon “‘depresses wages’ in markets where it’s a major employer.” The unions feel that the FTC is needed for this “urgent inquiry.”

“Given the speed at which Amazon continues to amass market power and the company’s persistent disregard for the inquiries of the legislative branch, we submit that a more forceful inquiry is needed,” the petition states. “It is imperative that the FTC call on Amazon to answer the charge that it is using exclusionary conduct to the detriment of workers, consumers, merchants, and competition itself.”

A spokesperson for Amazon stated “[t]he fact is that no other U.S.-based company has created more jobs than Amazon in the last decade,” the spokesperson said. “In the U.S. alone, Amazon has created over 500,000 jobs for people with all types of experience, education and skill levels.” The spokesperson also pointed out that Amazon accounts for less than 4 percent of American retail sales.

Amazon is also currently being investigated by the FTC as a part of its 10-year acquisition review.