Teamsters Decide to Organize Amazon

Union says company threatens working standards at other delivery services
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 24, 2021 4:20 PM CDT
Teamsters Vote to Sign Up Amazon
An Amazon delivery van departs a company warehouse in Dedham, Mass., last October.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

One of the nation's largest unions is aiming to unionize Amazon workers. Representatives from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a union that represents 1.4 million workers, voted on Thursday to make organizing Amazon workers a priority. That means it will create a division focused on Amazon and set aside money for the effort, the AP reports. The Teamsters said that Amazon, the nation's second-largest private employer, is exploiting its employees by paying them low wages, pushing them to work at fast speeds, and giving them no job security. It also said the company, which has been rapidly growing its delivery business, threatens the working standards it has created for workers at other freight and delivery companies, such as UPS. "Amazon workers are calling for safer and better working conditions, and with today's resolution we are activating the full force of our union to support them," said Randy Korgan, the national director for Amazon at the Teamsters. Seattle-based Inc. didn't respond to a request for comment Thursday.

So far, no effort to unionize Amazon has been successful in the company's 26-year history, including a recent one in Alabama. But Korgan said the Teamsters will try a different strategy. He wrote in a Salon article this month that unionizing one facility at a time doesn't work because companies like Amazon have the money and legal resources to kill unionizing efforts inside their facilities. Organizing Amazon workers, he wrote, will take "shop-floor militancy," such as taking to city streets and holding warehouse strikes. Amazon fought hard against the union push at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. It hung anti-union signs throughout the warehouse and held mandatory meetings to convince workers that the union is a bad idea, said a worker who testified at a Senate hearing. When the votes were counted in April, the majority rejected unionizing. The Teamsters said it is targeting workers in Amazon's delivery business, who drive vans or pack orders in warehouses.

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