Does Amazon have a Union? Is Amazon against unions?

Does Amazon have a Union? Is Amazon against unions? It was the Champagne pop heard across the economy. One year ago Saturday, a fired Amazon warehouse worker turned labor activist sprayed Champagne and then drank from the bottle outside federal labor offices in New York City.

Swarmed by supporters and media, Chris Smalls toasted a victory: the first Amazon union in the U.S., led by Smalls and other workers at an 8,300-person warehouse on Staten Island, a feat few believed they could pull off.

Does Amazon have a Union?

The Amazon Labor Union was founded in 2021 by a group of labor activists, called the Congress of Essential Workers. The group, founded by Smalls, Jordan Flowers, Gerald Bryson, and Derrick Palmer, is a collective of essential workers, including servers, warehouse workers, teachers, and others.

Smalls, a former Amazon employee, was fired by the company after organizing a protest over COVID safety concerns. In April 2022, Amazon workers at the JFK8 Fulfillment Center in Staten Island voted to create the first Amazon Labor Union.

The Amazon Labor Union is focused on better pay, better benefits, and better working conditions for Amazon workers. The union called for hourly wages to increase to at least $30 an hour and more paid breaks and time off.

Amazon have a Union

Why don’t Amazon workers want to be in a union?

Amazon workers in Staten Island voted to unionize in 2022. But, the move followed a failed union vote at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, in 2021.

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Workers at an Amazon Fresh grocery store launched a union push in 2022, seeking higher pay, more flexible attendance policies, longer breaks, and other benefits. A group of Amazon delivery drivers in California, who contract with Amazon, unionized this year and negotiated their first contract with the Teamsters Union.

Is Amazon against unions?

The National Labor Relations Board has accused Amazon of illegal anti-union practices, such as firing workers in retaliation for joining a union. According to disclosures filed with the Department of Labor, Amazon spent $14.2 million in 2022 on consultants who worked to encourage workers not to unionize.

Amazon workers have also accused the company of handing out “vote no” pins during unionization efforts, texting workers multiple times a day, removing pro-union materials, and disciplining employees who participate in union activities.

The company led an anti-union campaign in Alabama, which led to workers voting not to form a union. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union said it would file objections with the NLRB, alleging that Amazon hindered the vote.

Amazon disputed the Staten Island workers’ unionization win, but its challenge failed, and the vote was certified. However, the company has appealed.

What will happen if Amazon unionized?

Workers at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island voted to join the Amazon Labor Union. In other instances, workers have tried to organize to join other unions.

According to Morgan Stanley analysts, unionization at Amazon could increase costs for the company. By increasing hourly wages for the employees in Staten Island who voted to unionize, Amazon’s operating expenses would increase by $203 million in 2023 — however, it’s a small portion of the company’s annual operating expenses, which reached $445 billion in 2021.

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For every 1% of Amazon’s workforce that unionizes, analysts expect it to lead to an incremental $150 million in annual operating expenses.

Amazon have a Union

A public shaming, but will it lead to progress?

It’s unclear, though, how much can be gained through words alone.

On Wednesday, Sanders was unable to elicit a promise from Schultz that Starbucks would exchange contract proposals with the union within 14 days. He failed to get Schultz to admit to any missteps in his handling of the union campaign.

Instead, Schultz did what he’s done proudly for decades, outlining the competitive wages and industry-leading benefits that Starbucks affords workers, including free college tuition and company stock, even for part-time employees.

There is growing outside pressure for Starbucks and its new CEO Laxman Narasimhan to reconsider the company’s anti-union stance. At a meeting last week, shareholders voted to approve a proposal, brought by heavyweight investors including New York City’s pension fund, for an independent assessment of Starbucks’ labor practices — an examination of its adherence to commitments it made to uphold workers’ rights.

Still, it’s unclear what that vote may mean. The shareholder proposals are not binding, and in encouraging a no vote on the proposal, Starbucks said it had already begun its own third-party human rights impact assessment.

Amazon Employees Don’t Need a Union

Tight labor markets empower workers more than any union. That’s why it’s unlikely that the 7,500 Amazon workers at the JFK8 plant in Staten Island, New York, who are voting today on whether to join the Amazon Labor Union, will choose to be organized. Voting at Amazon’s LDJ5 plant (also in Staten Island), which employs 1,500 workers, will take place next month.

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Last April, more than 84 percent of the workers in the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, rejected the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The vote wasn’t even close—it was a decisive win for the workers that didn’t want a union. The National Labor Relations Board required a revote, with votes to be counted next week, but this will not likely change the result. The United Auto Workers lost a revote at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant in 2019, when margins were narrower.

Workers don’t need unions because the economy is booming, and workers face a sellers’ market for their skills. They also don’t want to pay substantial union dues. And they understand that the union agenda would drive jobs offshore.

Over the past year, the American economy has created more than 7 million jobs. Production earnings rose by 7 percent, and the labor-force participation rate increased by almost a full percentage point. In February of this year, the economy created 678,000 jobs. The forecast for March, due out April 1, is similar. The unemployment rate stands at 3.8 percent.

The labor market is getting tighter. Amazon workers have more bargaining power without a union than they did a year ago. Moreover, with almost 11 million unfilled jobs, employees have their pick of other positions if they want to move. People at all income levels, including adults without a high school diploma, are getting jobs, and they don’t need unions to advance.

Union dues can be steep. For example, monthly dues for membership in the Teamsters Local 665 in San Francisco amount to 2.5 times the hourly wage. A worker making the national average hourly earnings of $30 would pay $75 a month, or $900 a year. With inflation running at 8 percent, every dollar counts.

Amazon have a Union

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