On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver returned after a week off with a lot to discuss from his blank void which the host described as “an Apple store that only sells sadness.”
He touched on Derek Chauvin’s “what had happened was” defense during his trial and briefly mentioned the boat that got stuck and then unstuck in Egypt. Then he had some fun with right-wing media’s wild reaction to Lil Nas X’s music video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name) — particularly Borat Subsequent Moviefilm‘s breakout star Rudy Giuliani’s awkward attempt to explain the rapper’s video which featured him giving a lap dance to an actor dressed as the devil.
Oliver then said Lil Nas X’s video is wholesome compared to the accusations surrounding Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz.
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“Gaetz is being investigated for potentially violating sex trafficking laws involving a minor — something he denies, claiming there’s actually a multi-million dollar extortion plot behind the investigation,” said Oliver before cutting to a clip of Gaetz explaining his theory to Tucker Carlson — something he failed at badly.
Oliver shifted the spotlight to Amazon. After describing Jeff Bezos as having too much money and zero empathy like Lex Luthor, he talked about an Amazon fulfullment center in Bessemer, Alabama which is currently counting votes in a historic union vote. “The drive has been seen as a bellwether for the labor movement as a whole, and Amazon workers have plenty of reasons to fight to unionize,” said Oliver.
The Amazon facility in Bessemer has been making headlines as of late. Workers have complained about grueling work, unsafe work conditions and inadequate breaks. One clip featured an employee saying that they are seen more like a product or statistic rather than a human being.
“The fact that amazon workers are demoralized is something you knew, but it doesn’t get any less upsetting no matter how many times you’re reminded,” said the host.
The results of the vote are not known yet, but Oliver unpacks how Amazon has fought it. It has been reported that Amazon workers get nearly five texts a day discouraging them from joining a union and there have also been mandatory meetings that disparage unionization. There have also been anti-union posters placed in the bathroom stalls in the work facilities.
There have been reports that Amazon workers in Bessemer have had to forgo bathroom breaks to meet quotas. Drivers have also been forced to urinate in bottles and even worse: defecating in bags. Last week, The Intercept published an internal Amazon memo that said drivers “must not return bags to station with poop inside”.
“It’s a revolting story,” Oliver said. He continued, “We do have to keep paying attention to this because the outcome of Bessemer’s vote will have major implications. Amazon is the second-largest private employer in America and this unionizing effort could determine whether their employees have the power to demand decent working conditions.”
Oliver concluded, “The harder the company tries to convince their workers that they don’t need union protection, the clearer it becomes that Amazon executives — much like the bags that are apparently lying around their delivery vehicles — are completely full of sh*t.”