Historic Amazon union drive set to conclude 1

Officials are set to reveal the outcome of a high-profile battle in Bessemer, Alabama that could establish the first unionised Amazon warehouse in the US.

Ballots will start being counted on Tuesday after more than a month of voting ends on Monday.

The fight is a key test for Amazon, which has faced criticism around the world over its working conditions during the pandemic.

The e-commerce giant has fiercely opposed the effort.

If it loses, it would be forced to enter formal negotiations with representatives from the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) over a contract for nearly 6,000 staff at the warehouse, located just outside Birmingham, a city in the north central region of Alabama.

With both sides likely to challenge some of the votes, the results of the ballot are not expected to be known for some time.

Amazon says it offers competitive pay and benefits. It has also tried to persuade workers that the union would not be able to win more for its members, even while the union collects hundreds of dollars in dues payments.

But union organisers have said staff are fed up with the relentless and impersonal treatment they receive.

Amazon, the second largest employer in the US after Walmart, has long faced criticism over its working conditions.

The complaints hit new intensity last year, as the pandemic brought a surge of business and profit while raising health risks.

Workers in Spain, Italy, France and elsewhere have protested and held strikes, including this week in Germany.

The vote in the US is the first time since 2014 that Amazon has faced a formal union drive in the US.

If organisers succeed against the company in Alabama, many pro-union backers are hopeful it will inspire workers elsewhere to take a stand and set a new work standard for its US workforce.

Political support

“The reason that Amazon is putting so much energy to try to defeat you is they know that if you succeed here, it will spread all over this country,” Senator Bernie Sanders told workers at a recent union rally.

Mr Sanders is among the many Democratic politicians and celebrities who have endorsed the union effort in Alabama.

Last month, President Joe Biden also appeared to back the drive, in a video that called the Alabama vote a “vitally important choice” and warned against company efforts to intimidate workers, though he did not mention Amazon by name.

Unusually, at least one prominent voice from the typically anti-union Republican Party has chimed in with support as well: Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who wrote in a recent opinion piece that “uniquely malicious corporate behaviour like Amazon’s justifies a more adversarial approach to labour relations”.

In recent days, Amazon officials have been unusually outspoken in defending the company, contesting claims from politicians about how much it paid in taxes, among other issues.

 

Dave Clark, Amazon’s retail chief, wrote on Twitter that Mr Sanders should “save his finger wagging lecture” until he delivers on a promise to raise the US minimum wage to $15 an hour – where Amazon sets its starting pay.

Mr Sanders said the pushback was a sign the company was “getting nervous”.

Source of the article: BBC.

One Comment

  1. Thanks for your blog, nice to read. Do not stop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend