Unions Gearing Up on Amazon

ACORN International Amazon India International Labor Organizing

New Orleans       These days Amazon is the big dog barking, but we’re starting to nip at its heels.

            The NLRB Regional Director has ruled on the objections filed by the union, RWDSU/UFCW, from the election earlier in the year at one of their fulfillment warehouses in Bessemer, Alabama.  He ordered a new election.  The union says that it will move forward in anticipation of a new vote.

This is the US labor law, so nothing will proceed quickly.  The company will inevitably appeal this decision to the board of the NLRB.  Fortunately, we’re in Biden-time, rather than Trump-time, or it just might all end there.  With the current acting general counsel and the new shape of the board, the odds are that the region’s order will be upheld.  The company will appeal to the courts.  There will likely be some push-and-shove at the regional level about whether to schedule and hold the election, but keep it in the box, meaning hold off the count until the courts would act.  Historically, the courts would not try to second guess regulatory determinations, like those of the NLRB, where there have been credibility judgments already made.  These days, it’s more of a crapshoot.

 It hardly matters.  The real prize here is as much the delay, as the decision.  Usually, the longer the delay, the lower the odds of union victory.  In this case, since RWDSU has such a high mountain to climb to rebuild support against wildly high turnover, not even considering the very low odds that they might prevail in a second election, if held quickly.  They may just hope to get a new Excelsior list of all of the workers and their coordinates in order to hope to fight again in some better, bright and shining day.

This is not the only front where Amazon is facing more pressure in the workplace.

In Germany, Ver.di struck them for the eight straight years with 2500 workers hitting the streets at seven warehouses.  The union demanded an immediate 3% raise with another 1.7% in 2022.  The bigger objective of the strike is about maintaining Tarifvertrag, a tariff  or premium of sorts that sets wage levels in the sector.  Amazon plays hardball, usually conceding a bit, but continuing to refuse to abide by the standard.  No one is playing in Germany.

This year on Black Friday, there were other actions around the world, both physical and on social media, coordinated by Make Amazon Pay to protest Amazon’s workplace practices.  ACORN International is a member of the campaign.  ACORN members were part of the action in Mumbai and Delhi, coordinated by global union federation, UNI.

Let’s be frank.  None of this is really slowing Amazon down, but at the same time more and more of this is putting Amazon front and center as a target for unions advocating for change in the company and how it handles its workers.