Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, voted in a historic poll to decide whether to be represented by a coalition of retail, wholesale and department stores.
Results aren’t expected until next week, but if they say so, it will be Amazon’s first US union.
Amazon claims that its wages and allowances outperform the industry and has begun a fight to persuade workers to vote against it.
Most agree that the consequences can have a significant impact on US labor law.
Peter Romer-Friedman, Principal of Law Firm Gupta Wessler PLLC, said:
“It will affect not only the real economy, but also high-tech companies.
“The concept of workers sitting at a table is a fundamental concept for people in Silicon Valley.”
Why do workers want to unite?
It goes without saying that in the United States, Amazon has 800 facilities with 950,000 full-time and part-time workers, and many do not feel the need to join a union.
And for those who do, this isn’t primarily a wage issue-in fact, Amazon pays workers an average of $ 15 (£ 11) per hour.
However, most people agree that warehouse conditions can be harsh. The work is very demanding and many workers complain of back pain and other physical distress as a result of working long hours in the same position.
Others talk about the mental health sacrifices of repetitive work and feel that they are very large mechanical gears that do not always listen to their problems.
There are also many things that workers find out of their control, such as shift patterns, vacations, sick leave, and dismissals.
One of the most controversial features is the Vacation Task (TOT).
When a worker arrives at work, Amazon’s computer system calculates the time of the shift on or off task based on whether the item was scanned.
And some feel dehumanized by technology that monitors every movement.
Do workers really need to urinate in bottles?
Amazon issued a special tweet last week in response to a recurring complaint that US MP Mark Pokan sometimes urinates in a bottle because he feels he doesn’t have time to go to the bathroom.
“Paying $ 15 an hour to a worker doesn’t make you a’progressive workplace’when you bankrupt the union and let the worker urinate in a water bottle,” he wrote.
Amazon News replied: “You really don’t believe in peeing in a bottle, right?
“If that is true, no one will work for us.”
Amazon’s tweets have been shared thousands of times, with most saying it’s badly reflected in the company.
This claim can be traced back to James Bradworth, who worked secretly in a British warehouse while studying a book on low-paying British workers.
He then tweeted and responded to an Amazon News tweet. “I was the one who found the pee in the bottle.
“Believe me, it happened.”
In a typical 10-hour shift, workers are allowed two 30-minute breaks.
Is Amazon bankrupting the union, as claimed?
A series of allegations leveled by Amazon over attempts to disrupt the union include:
We’ve changed the traffic light system outside the warehouse to reduce the time union officers spend on leaflet workers.
An attempt to appeal the decision of the National Labor Relations Board, which allows workers to vote by mail, failed.
It attacked workers with texts, posters and signs urging them to vote against.
I posted an anti-union ad on the streaming platform Twitch, but it was later removed.
At the time, RWDSU President Stuart Aperbaum said, “Amazon hasn’t left any problems, including Twitch’s ads, to trick employees into threatening to vote against the union.”
During SeptemberThe company briefly advertised two intelligence analysts, whose duties include monitoring union activity, but the ads were removed after national news.
What does Amazon say?
Amazon told BBC News: “The number of RWDUS members declined by 25% during Stuart Aperbaum’s tenure, which does not justify Mr. Aperbaum’s misrepresentation of the facts.
“Our employees know the truth: wages over $ 15, health care from day one, and a safe and comprehensive workplace.
“We encouraged all employees to vote-and their voices will be heard in the coming days.”
How else did you react?
Recently, Amazon has stepped up its public relations efforts, but the results are quite mixed.
One of the security engineers even thought the Amazon News account was hacked because the tweet appeared to be “unnecessarily hostile.” Intercept reported..
In addition to tweets about bottle urination, he aggressively counterattacked Democratic politicians such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
They have also been accused of using fake Twitter accounts to show a positive attitude towards working for the company.
Amazon itself has admitted that one of these accounts is not a real worker’s account, not to mention whether the company created it.
Did Covid play a role?
In 2020, the company’s net sales increased 38% and hired more than 500,000 additional staff.
Behind the scenes, however, there was great pressure to keep supplying goods to warehouse staff, and many blocked people were ordering.
Chris Smalls, one of the few employees who asked questions about the safety of the warehouse early in the pandemic, was fired and Amazon said it broke the rules of social distance.
And in February, the Attorney General of New York sued Amazon, claiming that it failed to adequately protect warehouse workers from Covid’s risks.
What about the other world?
According to the Labor Department, the number of union members in the United States is unusually low, accounting for only 6.3% of the private sector workforce.
By comparison, Amazon workers in Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France and Poland are all members of the union.
In Germany, the last four days of strikes have been called over wages and conditions, and in Italy, Amazon workers have struck 24 hours a day, running out of labor rates and “algorithmic control.”