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Supply Chain News: A Year after Losing its First Election, Amazon has Little Trouble Fending off the Unions


Company Spent $14.2 Million on Anti-Union Consultants in 2022

April 11, 2023


SCDigest Editorial Staff

In 2022, workers at an Amazon sortation center in Staten Island, NY voted to unionize, the first in the nation to do so.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

While there are a few organizing efforts going on at Amazon FCs across the US, the company seems at little risk of major union gains any time soon.

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That move came after organizers twice lost a vote at a fulfillment center in Bessemer, AL,and the Staten Island victory gave new hope to labor that at last would come a wave of activity and successes at Amazon operations across the nation. (Note the union is again contesting the results of the second election in Bessemer, as it successfully did after the first vote.)

It hasn't worked out this way.

In fact, even at the Staten Island workers do not have a union contract, as Amazon appealed and delayed accepting the election results and has yet to begin bargaining with the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), the makeshift union started by a small number of Amazon workers.

As reported by the UK’s labor-friendly The Guardian newspaper, there is conflict within the ALU, with several union leaders resigning in protest over founder and union president Chris Smalls’ focus on traveling and public appearances. That has raised concerns that rushing losing union elections at other sites had come at the cost of focusing on the first union contract fight at Staten Island.

In the past year, ALU lost union elections in Albany, New York and at another Amazon facility in Staten Island. It also pulled a union election petition shortly after filing to organize an Amazon FC in California.

And Amazon continues to play hardball in its anti-union efforts. Last week, for example, a government filing revealed that Amazon spent $14.2 million on anti-union consultants in 2022. That’s more than triple what Amazon spent the previous year, when organizing efforts started to build up among Amazon fulfillment and sortation centers.

Anti-union consultants, who develop and execute tactics to persuade workers not to unionize, are frequently hired by companies hoping to stop the campaign or defeat it in a vote to organize. Amazon typically holds numerous anti-union meetings that workers were required to attend, and plasters “vote no” posters at its FCs, following a common anti-union playbook.

However, a federal judge ruled in January that Amazon violated labor laws by threatening to withhold wage increases if workers voted to form a union.

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The Guardian quotes Rebecca Givan, a professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers University, as commenting that “The fact employers can spend an unlimited amount to fight organizing and hide a great deal of that spending, the fact that workers who are organizing have no right to equal time, and the fact that employers can use every trick imaginable to delay, delay, delay and try to win a war of attrition. It demonstrates all of the holes in current labor law.”

In the absence of unionization wins, The Guardian says labor forces are increasingly focused more on putting pressure on Amazon through various means to take actions to improve working conditions.

While there are a few organizing efforts going on at Amazon FCs across the US, the company seems at little risk of major union gains any time soon.

Do you have any thoughts on Amazon and unions? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below (email) or in the Feedback section.




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