Amazon has come out on high within the largest US union election within the firm’s historical past. But the labor battle seems removed from over.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) introduced on Friday that it deliberate to file unfair labor observe costs in opposition to Amazon over allegations of worker intimidation and manipulation. The union additionally requested a listening to earlier than the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to go over its objections.
Meanwhile, activists who’ve labored for Amazon mentioned the election final result is not going to cease extra organizing efforts at different Amazon services within the US. And experiences in latest months level to the Teamsters Union attempting to arrange different Amazon warehouses and supply drivers.
In quick, the Amazon union dialog is getting into a brand new part. Here’s what to count on subsequent.
What’s subsequent on the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama
Out of two,536 staff who voted within the union election at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama facility (generally known as BHM1), 1,798 voted in opposition to unionization in comparison with 738 who voted to unionize. Ballots from one other 505 staff have been challenged by both Amazon or the union, however these votes received’t change the result, so the election is over.
In a digital press occasion organized by Amazon after the vote depend ended, 4 Bessemer warehouse staff who voted in opposition to unionizing mentioned they consider the union misplaced as a result of most colleagues admire the advantages they have already got at Amazon and didn’t assume they want a union to make adjustments.
“The union said that we would never have a seat at the table on our own, but we actually have a seat at the table,” mentioned an Amazon employee named William Stokes. “Now we’re talking with senior management. … Over the next 100 days, we are going to talk about things that we want to change. So change will come out of this.”
Stokes didn’t present particulars of the adjustments sought.
Around the identical time, pro-union Amazon staff appeared with union officers at a separate digital press occasion. The message they tried to get throughout was that they don’t seem to be carried out talking up or preventing for what they really feel they deserve.
“Bezos, you are wrong, you are wrong all the way around,” one Amazon employee, Linda Burns, mentioned, referencing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “You misled a lot of our people.”
Amazon pushed onerous to persuade staff to vote in opposition to unionization. The firm arrange an anti-union website that harped on the truth that union dues would price full-time staff near $500 a yr. What the corporate didn’t say on the website is that, in Alabama, unions can’t require staff to pay union dues. So a union at Amazon’s BHM1 wouldn’t be capable to pressure staff to turn into members and pay dues or charges. Even in such a state of affairs, these workers would nonetheless be coated by a union contract and could be represented by the union in a case through which the corporate violated the settlement in a means that harmed the employee.
Amazon additionally convened necessary in-person conferences throughout employee shifts to emphasize the downsides of unions, sending frequent texts to staff with anti-union messages and inspiring them to vote no. The firm went as far as to publish anti-union flyers on worker lavatory stall doorways.
The retail big additionally did one thing else that seems to be much more controversial. Amazon pressed the United States Postal Service to put in a mailbox on the grounds of the Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse proper earlier than voting began — and after the NLRB denied the corporate’s request to position a poll drop field on the property. Some staff have mentioned they have been intimidated by the set up of the mailbox, in addition to the messages from Amazon to make use of it, and consider that the corporate wished to watch who voted.
Amazon spokesperson Heather Knox beforehand instructed the Washington Post that “the RWDSU … pushed for a mail-only election, which the NLRB’s own data showed would reduce turnout. This mailbox — which only the USPS had access to — was a simple, secure, and completely optional way to make it easy for employees to vote, no more and no less.”
The mailbox and the anti-union messaging round dues will each possible come up within the union’s complaints. The NLRB mentioned that the events “have five business days to file objections contesting the conduct or results of the election,” and RWDSU has already mentioned it’ll file unfair labor observe costs in opposition to Amazon for sure habits through the marketing campaign and election. The NLRB might select to carry a listening to to seek out out extra in regards to the union’s claims if an investigation deems them credible. The labor board might then select to throw out the outcomes and name for a brand new election if it sided with the union.
Amazon union battles exterior of Bessemer
The Bessemer union election, whether or not or not the outcomes are upheld, will possible not be the final union drive at an Amazon facility within the US.
Christian Smalls, a former Amazon assistant warehouse supervisor who the New York Attorney General says was unlawfully fired for his labor activism, instructed Recode he is within the strategy of organizing staff on the Staten Island warehouse the place he labored earlier than Amazon dismissed him.
“Although we may not have gotten the results we wanted this time around, this doesn’t discourage the workers of Amazon,” he wrote in a textual content message to Recode. “If anything, it motivates. We believe it’s possible even more so than before, so I still consider this a victory for Bessemer to spark the fuse which ignited us all to be talking about unions again in this country.”
Smalls and others have created their very own union, the Amazon Labor Union, that they hope will ultimately characterize staff not simply in Staten Island however, if profitable, at different Amazon services too.
There have been indicators of labor organizing exercise at different Amazon services in latest months of properly. In Iowa, for instance, an area chapter of the Teamsters Union has been engaged on organizing Amazon warehouse staff and supply drivers. But a consultant for the union mentioned the group is attempting to take a distinct tack than the RWDSU.
“We’re focused on building a new type of labor movement where we don’t rely on the election process to raise standards,” Jesse Case, secretary-treasurer of a Teamsters native in Iowa, instructed the New York Times.
In the US, union organizers usually must win an election at every particular person facility of an organization like Amazon’s. Organizers first should get 30 % of staff to signal a card saying they’re involved in a union. After that, the NLRB will maintain an election, through which a majority of voters should vote to unionize to ensure that the union to take maintain. What Case, of the Teamsters, is describing is a extra casual strategy, utilizing protests and different types of public strain to get an organization like Amazon to make adjustments in step with what staff need. An Amazon employee group known as Amazonians United Chicagoland has additionally held protests and walkouts all through the pandemic.
As for the RWDSU, the union’s president mentioned on Friday that the group has heard from greater than 1,000 Amazon staff at different services who’re involved in unionizing. But the union wouldn’t say for positive whether or not, or the place, they may push for an election at different Amazon websites ought to the Bessemer attraction fail.
“I think it will be a moment to reflect and think about the best strategy moving forward,” Rebecca Givan, a labor professor at Rutgers University, instructed Recode of whether or not the RWDSU may take into account giving up on Amazon ought to their Bessemer problem fail. “We might see other kinds of organizing in other Amazon warehouses, rather than formal union drives under the NLRB process.”
Shirin Ghaffary contributed reporting to this story.