In our case the home page didn’t pop up, today (and tomorrow) is Prime Day. For First Members, this means business, business, business. For Amazon store workers, it usually means mandatory overtime, or MET as the company abbreviated. MET intensifies an already taxing work schedule: A typical warehouse change consists of 10 hours of uninterrupted physical work with two 30-minute breaks. (Policies are less consistent for delivery drivers, since most of them work a network of entrepreneurs, but suffice it to say that their workloads will increase comparatively.) At the same time, something else is intensifying: scrutiny on Amazon’s working conditions.
The recent union unit in Bessemer, Alabama, has brought national attention to work issues in the ecommerce giant, attracting criticism from peers. Bernie Sanders and Representative Andy Levin of Michigan, who serves on the House Committee on Education and Labor. Earlier this month In the Washington Post released a report calling on Amazon’s poor security record, and last week In the New York Times it followed with an inquiry into the company’s HR failures and turnover rate during the pandemic. Jeff Bezos annoyed some of the critics in a letter to shareholders in April, promising to make Amazon “Earth’s best employer” and “Earth’s safest place to work” (even as it prepares to leave the Earth daretu). While labor protests around Prime Day are over nothing new, they may have more teeth this year.
So while buyers are trying to earn some savings this week, a few groups across the country are trying to organize the company’s massive and bloated workforce. And they are converging from more angles.
First, the dream of syndicating the Bessemer magazine is still alive. After all lose the April union election, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store (RWDSU) union challenged the results, alleging inappropriate behavior by Amazon. A decision by the National Labor Relations Council is expected imminent. If the hearing officer rules in favor of the union, he could order a resumption of the election, although Amazon could appeal such a decision.
Meanwhile, a scrappier union is underway near Staten Island, New York. It is led by the Amazon Independent Trade Union, which is made up of working class people. The Teamsters, which mainly represent logistics workers as the largest labor union in the country, have also said it has something big in store. “Focusing on one facility at a time and following weak and difficult legal processes to enforce in America is insufficient to win against monopoly companies like Amazon,” said Teamsters national director for Amazon Randy Korgan he wrote in Living room ahead of its annual convention this week.
Any group you organize on Amazon, large or small, will face a lot of probability, says Rebut Kolins Givan, Rutgers ’labor relations professor. The company’s formidable tactics were on display at Bessemer: $ 375 an hour syndication consultants, months-long messaging campaign through a myriad of communication channels, and its power to change. traffic patterns on a whim. “Amazon has the law and billions of dollars on its side,” Givan says. “Thinking of creative ways to tackle these challenges is just a good thing” for the organizers.
The 118-year-old Teamsters union, 1.4 million members, has resources and experience on its side. But Christian Smalls, a former Staten Island trial assistant, thinks Amazon requires a non-traditional approach. Last year Amazon fired Smalls after leading a lawsuit to protest the company’s Covid-19 response. Then filtered meeting notes showing Amazon’s general counsel calling Smalls, who is black, “not smart or articulate,” and thinking about making them “the face of the entire union / organizer movement,” Smalls set out to get the company to eat his words. He helped found the Congress of Essential Workers, a one-year working group that supports the Amazon Labor Union on Staten Island.