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Supply Chain News: Unionization Efforts at Amazon Strengthen as New Teamsters President has Amazon in his Sights

 

Votes at Three Amazon FCs in Progress or Scheduled Soon

 
March 23, 2022

 

SCDigest Editorial Staff

So far, Amazon has avoided unionization at any of its US fulfillment centers, though it operates a number of unionized facilities in Europe. But it will be interesting to see how long it can fend of organizing effort on its home turf.

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O’Brien added that he wants Teamsters to lead on unionizing Amazon because it has the most resources to take on the on-line giant.


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In April of 2021, Amazon handily won a union vote at an FC in Bessemer, Alabama, with 71% of several thousand employees voting not to organize.

The vote was closely watched, with many labor backing expecting a win and predicting success would quickly spread to other Amazon FCS.

However, after the defeat the union appealed to the National Labor Relations Board, alleging a number of unfair tactics by Amazon, and called for the NLRB to order a new election. The union argued that Amazon's conduct throughout the process prevented "a free and un-coerced exercise of choice by the employees."

In November, the NLRB backed the union challenge, leading it to schedule a multi-week mail-in vote, which is now in progress, with counting to begin March 28.

Can Amazon dodge a Bessemer union bullet again?

But that is hardly the only organizing front Amazon is defending.

In mid-February, the NLRB set a union vote for thousands of Amazon workers at a Staten Island warehouse. The in-person election is set to run between March 25-30, ending within days of the extended mail-in vote in the Bessemer FC.

Interestingly, the Staten Island union election was driven by a nascent labor group not associated with any national union. Going by the name of the Amazon Labor Union, the group is made up of current and former Amazon workers. Leader Chris Smalls had gained famed by staging a walkout over working conditions at the Staten Island warehouse early in the pandemic in 2020. Smalls was fired the same day for breaking company rules relative to COVID protocol on the job.

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The group is pursuing union elections at four Amazon FCs on Staten Island, with stated goals of gaining longer breaks, improved medical and other leave options, and an increase in wages.

And the group is having some success in spreading the movement. This week, a second Staten Island FC was approved by the NLRB for a union vote.

Workers at the Amazon FC, known as LDJ5, will cast their ballots beginning April 25. Votes will be counted by the agency on May 2.

The election will take place in-person at the facility. LDJ5 is located less than a mile away from the original FC scheduled to vote starting March 25th.

Amazon is fighting all the union efforts, including holding regular “captive audience” meetings, which workers are required to attend and where Amazon argues against the benefits of unionizing.

Meanwhile, the incoming Teamsters union president says he is ready to take on the challenge of unionizing Amazon.

Sean O’Brien told Bloomberg that “From a union perspective, we’re going to negotiate the strongest contracts in similar industries like UPS and DHL, and that’s going to be our marketing tool to bring to these workers and say, ‘Look, this is what you get when you work under a union contract.’”

O’Brien added that he wants Teamsters to lead on unionizing Amazon because it has the most resources to take on the on-line giant, versus a much smaller union in Bessemer and what might be called a “union start up” on Staten Island leading the charge.

Taking on Amazon was among O’Brien’s pledges while campaigning for the election to head the giant union.

 

What do you think of the efforts to unionize Amazon? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below (email) or in the Feedback section.



 
 
   

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