Stopping Amazon is Not Easy

Amazon International Make Amazon Pay NLRB Strike UK Unions

            New Orleans      Another Black Friday has come and gone, or has it?  Now, there’s Cyber-Monday, and every kind of small business seems to be jumping on the bandwagon at least pretending there’s a sale on offer.  I even read some report about a woman who specialized in finding cheaper prices than Amazon on Black Friday.  Is it possible the giant “everything store” of Amazon has lost control of the BF brand?

Those of us supporting the simultaneous events called Make Amazon Pay certainly wish it were so.  We met unionists from the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and elsewhere recently in Manchester, England, who seemed committed to upping the ante, and they did.  There were reports of strikes in all of these countries as well as Spain.  Perhaps the most aggressive action was in Germany, “Amazon’s second-biggest market in 2022” where workers “at five fulfillment centers in Bad Hersfeld, Dortmund, Koblenz, Leipzig, and Rheinberg, began a 24-hour strike” with their union Ver.di to demand a collective bargaining agreement.  We did our part with actions India and the turnout in the UK for various protests with labor, as well as spreading the word on all of our social media.

Are we winning?  Not so sure, but when you’re not fighting, you’re definitely losing.

As a threat to workers, Amazon is a huge octopus with tentacles everywhere.  Take delivery for example where there has been a lot of higher density union work. “Amazon delivered more packages to U.S. homes in 2022 than UPS, and FedEx in 2020, and it is on track to widen the gap this year.  The U.S. Postal Service is still the biggest parcel service by volume; handling hundreds of millions of packages for all three companies.”  Worse, they’re still expanding and by using subcontractors, making organizing even more difficult.  We met Teamsters on strike for months now after organizing and having Amazon offload their contractor.

UNI Global Union is doing its best to mobilize political and community pressure against the company in innovative ways, but the organizing remains problematic, especially in the United States.  The Amazon Labor Union after winning an election on Staten Island, has lost two subsequently, and is now riven by internal conflict.  The NLRB has done its part by issuing a rule setting new standards for determining “joint employer” status, which would not only help in situations like we have seen in California’s Inland Empire, but also with other franchise and subcontract situations.  Not surprisingly, corporate Congressman are trying to override the rule and there will be a predictable pile of litigation before the rule is rock solid, but it’s an opportunity.

The spirit is willing, but the resources may still be weak, and our forces not sufficiently united to finally bring justice to all of these workers harmed by Amazon’s labor practices, but the fight goes on, and we all need to be part of it.