Tuesday, February 09, 2021
Vote on union
Amazon workers are rehearsing the uprising
Mail order company Amazon is repeatedly criticized for its working conditions. Workers in the US state of Alabama are now rehearsing the uprising and voting on the establishment of a union representation. Amazon tried to the last to postpone the election.
The online giant Amazon is the second largest employer in the US, but unions have so far had nothing to report to the multibillionaire Jeff Bezos group. That could change soon: on Monday (local time) the vote on an employee representation in a logistics warehouse in Bessemer in the southeastern US state of Alabama began. Until March 29, the approximately 6,000 employees can vote by postal vote whether they want to join Amazon’s first major union initiative since 2014. The group resisted until the end.
If the US trade union RWDSU is successful with its attempt, the way would be paved for the first US location of Amazon with employee representation in the company’s 26-year history. However, the impact would not be particularly great – Amazon has over a million employees. The last attempt at unionization had failed in Delaware around six years ago.
Amazon has long been criticized for its working conditions, and the allegedly inadequate protection of employees came increasingly into focus during the pandemic. In a statement to the US media, Amazon said that the company already offers its employees everything that unions campaign for: one of the highest wages in the industry, comprehensive fringe benefits from day one on the job, as well as career opportunities and a safe and modern work environment. In addition, employees would have the opportunity to communicate directly with corporate management.
Amazon always emphasizes its relatively high pay, but employees in the logistics centers repeatedly complain about the high workload and alleged surveillance. The initiative of the union advertises to the employees in Bessemer that they can jointly win a “real seat at the table” from Amazon in order to be able to fight for safer working conditions and fair employer benefits.
Amazon had tried to delay the vote to the last, but was thrown out with an objection to the postal vote at the National Labor Relations Board. In the US tech industry as a whole, it is far from natural for workers to join unions. At the Google parent company Alphabet, for example, this was the case for the first time in January.