Amazon to face U.S. union push in 12 months forward » TechnoCodex

In 2021, Inc faces yet another challenge from groups it has long encountered: trade unions.

Driven by protests in Amazon’s U.S. camps and a more work-friendly administration taking office, unions at the world’s largest online retailer are campaigning to see its warehouse or grocery workers join their ranks.

A major test is expected early next year when workers in a camp decide whether to unionize. The company has not contested any union elections in the US since 2014, and a yes vote would be the first for a US Amazon facility.

Amazon, America’s second largest private employer after Walmart Inc, has told workers it already offers the union’s promise of pay and benefits, and has trained managers to recognize organizational activity. Doing business in France offers a picture of what the company would avoid: Strong unions this year caused its warehouses to close for months.

The upcoming vote is for employees at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama. They will consider joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The organizing committee launched a social media campaign, shared union authorization cards, and collected enough to hold the elections.

This week and last week, RWDSU and Amazon negotiated the election terms. By Tuesday, they agreed to have seasonal workers in the negotiating unit, as well as litigation assistants whose involvement the union had questioned after the election hearings for their regulator, led by a state labor committee. This board sets the election date.

The larger the bargaining unit – now it is projected to be over 5,700 – the more votes the union needs to win.

In a statement, Amazon said, “We don’t believe this group represents the majority of our employees’ views. Our employees choose Amazon because we have some of the best jobs available anywhere we hire. “Average hourly pay at the Bessemer facility is $ 15.30, and jobs include health and retirement benefits.

Precedent shows that RWDSU faces an uphill battle. Union membership fell from 20% in 1983 to 10% of the eligible workforce in 2019, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in January.

Employees at the Alabama plant did not answer requests for an interview.

Amazon employees are also organizing elsewhere. Alexander Collias, a cashier at Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods, said he took part in strikes because the pandemic put workers’ health at risk and he claims management has addressed other concerns.

“We’re definitely extremely union-friendly,” he said of his Whole Foods store in Portland. “If we voted today, it would probably happen.”

Courtenay Brown, a litigation assistant at an Amazon warehouse in New Jersey, said work in her building increased ten-fold during the pandemic and colleagues got sick. So she started spreading work-related petitions on Facebook.

“We need to be able to have a voice,” said Brown, 30, adding that she was neutral about the impact a union could have on their establishment.

Reuters has been introduced to both Brown and Collias through work-promoting campaigns on Amazon. One of them was Whole Worker, a group of current and former Whole Foods employees who wanted to organize the grocery chain.

The company’s strategy is to focus its reach and operations on half a dozen Whole Foods stores, including in Portland and Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, where the majority of employees have already been supported, said Katie Doan, one of the group’s directors.

“We prefer to focus on small businesses here and there that are sure to be fully unionized rather than failing nationally,” said Doan, who worked for Whole Foods in California until earlier this year.

Representatives from United Food and Commercial Workers International have also sought to discuss union formation, hazard accounting and other issues with Whole Foods employees. This is evident from interviews and copies of the announcement shared with Reuters.

The unions in the Seattle area are also meeting with technicians from Amazon, their coalition leader said. A local helps whistleblowers from companies that Amazon fired, contest their dismissal as a violation of U.S. labor law. This comes from a public record from Reuters. Amazon said it supported workers’ right to criticize the company, but the employees in question violated internal guidelines.

Proponents of the work say President Joe Biden’s administration stands ready to help with the union effort, thereby reducing the burden on the US National Labor Relations Board on corporate interests and supporting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

This bill was passed by the US House in February and would result in penalties for companies that obstruct the organization. The approval of the Senate is by no means guaranteed. Its passage would help level the playing field for workers, said Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU president, whose Mid-South Council is behind the union movement in Alabama.

“With a change in management, Amazon employees have a much better chance of coming together,” he said.

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