Technology

On Prime Day, the organizers want you to think of the workers


in case Home Didn’t Notify You, Today (and Tomorrow) is Prime Day. For the main members, this means dealsAnd the dealsAnd the deals. For Amazon warehouse workers, that usually means mandatory overtime, or MET as the company shortens it. MET ramps up an already stressful work schedule: a typical warehouse shift consists of 10 hours of hard physical work with two 30-minute shifts. (Policies are less consistent for delivery drivers, since most work for them network of contractors, but suffice it to say that their workloads will increase proportionately.) Meanwhile, something else is growing: scrutiny of Amazon’s working conditions.

A recent union campaign in Bessemer, Alabama, brought national attention to labor issues in the e-commerce giant, drawing criticism from the likes of Bernie Sanders and representative Andy Levine Michigan, who sits on the House Committee on Education and Labor. in advance this month Washington Post A report was published calling for Amazon’s poor security record, last week New York times It was followed up with an investigation into the company’s human resource failures and head turnover during the pandemic. Jeff Bezos nodded to some criticism in a letter to shareholders in April, pledging to make Amazon “the best employer on Earth” and “the safest place to work on Earth” (even as it prepares to leave Earth) behind). While labor protests around Prime Day nothing newArguably, they have more teeth this year.

So while shoppers try to make some savings this week, a number of groups across the country are trying to organize the company’s huge and bloated workforce. They converge from multiple angles.

First, the dream of consolidating the Bessemer warehouse is still alive. After no doubt loser Union Elections in April, Retail, Wholesale and Stores Union (RWDSU) a challenge The results, alleging inappropriate behavior on the part of Amazon. A decision by the National Labor Relations Board is expected imminently. If a hearing officer rules in favor of the union, it can order a re-election, although Amazon can appeal such a ruling.

Meanwhile, a union campaign is underway near Staten Island, New York. It is led by the Amazon Independent Workers Union, which is made up of ordinary workers. The Teamsters, which mainly represent logistics workers as the largest trade union in the country, have hinted they’ve got something big in the business. “Focusing on one facility at a time and relying on weak and hard-to-enforce US legal procedures are not enough to win against monopolistic companies like Amazon,” Amazon National Teamsters Director Randy Korgan Wrote at salon ahead of their annual meeting this week.

Any organized group on Amazon, big or small, faces long odds, says Rebecca Collins Jevan, professor of labor relations at Rutgers. The company’s formidable tactics were on display in Bessemer: their $375-an-hour union-busting advisors, a months-long messaging campaign scattered across myriad communications channels, and their potential for change. traffic patterns On a whim. “Amazon has the law and billions of dollars on its side,” Jeevan says. “Thinking of creative ways to tackle these challenges is only good” for the organizers.

The 118-year-old Teamsters league of 1.4 million members has the resources and experience at their side. But Christian Smalls, a former Staten Island operations assistant, thinks Amazon requires an unconventional approach. Last year, Amazon fired Smalls after it led a strike to protest the company’s response to Covid-19. distance Meeting notes leaked Showcasing Amazon’s general counsel calling Smalls, who is black, “not clever or obvious,” and planning to make him “the face of the entire union movement/organization,” Smalls set out to make the company eat its words. He helped found the Essential Workers Congress, a one-year-old labor group that supports the Amazon Workers Union in the Staten Island campaign.



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