The pressure is on for Amazon because the unions are fighting back.
Amazon may be the world leader when it comes to ecommerce, but its labor practices appear to be a throwback to a grimmer, darker time. So much so, in fact, that a representative for the National Labor Relations Board has recommended a union election at one of the company’s warehouses in Alabama.
According to the NLRB hearing officer assigned to the case, the way Amazon’s management team behaved during the organizing campaign precluded a fair vote.
Since the first quarter of last year, just as the pandemic began, Amazon has been on a hiring spree at almost all of its global locations, spurring the entry of thousands of new employees into the organization.
However, this has not allayed concerns from labor groups and regulatory bodies regarding workplace conditions and whether or not Amazon has been ethical in its dealings with its workers.
Increasing pressure from all sides
Over the past several months, Amazon employees – particularly those involved in warehouse operations – have become increasingly vocal about the company’s unsafe working conditions.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, in particular, has been putting pressure on Amazon by way of numerous protests and boycotts throughout the past year.
With regard to government intervention, the State of California is currently working on new legislation that will force the company to disclose information regarding its allegedly inhumane productivity quotas as well as its standards for worker health and safety.
Workers and union officials are also calling for investigations on why the company fired two white-collar employees. The dismissed employees came out as whistle-blowers about unethical labor practices at one of Amazon’s warehouses. They also spoke about an incident where a company executive disparagingly referred to a protesting laborer as not smart and inarticulate.
However, Amazon insists that its workers have already had their chance to speak up. In a statement, company management declared that the employees “voted overwhelmingly” for a direct connection to their managers or supervisors.
By all means necessary
The Teamsters believe otherwise. In June of this year, the organization approved a resolution where it pledged to supply all the necessary resources to Amazon employees to secure a union contract.
Furthermore, the Teamsters say that holding elections on individual sites is not prudent in a company as big as Amazon. Moreover, doing so is purportedly prohibited under current labor laws. Employers are allowed to bust unions in any way they see fit, and some apply pressure to would-be union supporters to resign well before voting has even begun.
Moving forward, the Teamsters expressed hopes of calling on the help of employees from other companies, public sympathy, and the participation of smaller companies whose existence is threatened by a monopolistic organization like Amazon.
For now, the union has been organizing activities such as a recent drivers’ walkout in Southern California wherein company drivers and dockworkers protested unfair treatment and unsafe working conditions.