At a landmark poll in Bessemer, Alabama, Amazonians voted to determine whether they want the grocery, wholesale, and department stores union to serve them. The decision is not due until next week – so it’s going to be the first US Union for Amazon if they say yes. Amazon argued that the salaries and bonuses are against the industry and fought to convince employees to vote no. Most believe that the results will have significant effects on the US labour laws.
The head of law firm Gupta Wessler PLLC Peter Romer-Friedman said that the central issue now in America is to handle our employees fairly in the companies that control our future. The global economy, including the technological businesses, would have to face consequences.
Why do employees want to unionize?
Amazon has 800 installations in the USA with 950,000 full-time and part-time employees, and many do not believe that they ought to form a union. And it is not primarily a salary problem for those who do – indeed, Amazon pays the employees an estimated $15 (£ 11) an hour, plus benefits. But most of the conditions agreed in their factories can be tough – labour is very tiresome and often staff complain about the long work hours because of back pain and other physical niggles. Others talk about repeated tasks or feeling they are a rod in a huge engine that doesn’t always listen to their problems and they also talk about mental health. And many other things, such as shifting habits, days off, sick leave, and layoffs, have little influence over jobs. Time off-task (TOT) is one of the most divisive features. If a worker is clocked in, the computer system of Amazon estimates the hours of a shift on the job or off depending on the scanning of an object. And some people complain that by the technology which is monitoring every step, makes them feel dehumanized.
How bad are things at Amazon?
The US congressman Mark Pocan repeated often-heard complaints from workers who sometimes urinated in bottles because they didn’t feel that they had enough time to visit the toilets or restrooms. He wrote that paying employees 15 dollars an hour doesn’t turn you into a ‘progressive working place’ when the union busts and then allows their staff to urinate in water bottles. “Do you believe in peeing in bottle thing, don’t you?” Amazon News responded. Nobody would work for us if that was real, it said.
Thousands of people shared Amazon’s message, with the majority claiming it weighed poorly on the brand. The argument can be traced back to James Bloodworth, who worked undercover in a UK factory for his book on low-paid British jobs. He also tweeted in response to the Amazon News’ tweet- “I was the one who noticed the pee in the bottle”. It happened, trust me, he replied. Staff is given two half-hour breaks over a daily 10-hour period.
Is Amazon breaking the labour laws, as some say?
Amazon has been accused of trying to destabilize the union in a variety of ways. It changed the traffic light system outside the factory so that union leaders would have less time to distribute leaflets to employees. It sought unsuccessfully to reverse a decision by the National Labor Relations Board that allowed employees to vote by mail. Staff was bombarded with emails, flyers, and stickers urging them to vote no. It ran anti-union advertisements on Twitch, its live-streaming website, which was later taken down.
RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum then said that Amazon is unturned in its efforts to trick their employees, including ads on Twitch to threaten their workers into voting against the union. The corporation advertised for two intelligence analysts in September, with the job description including “keeping an eye on union activities”. Later, the ad was pulled down when it attracted the attention of national news media.
What does Amazon have to say about this?
RWDUS membership has dropped 25% under Stuart Appelbaum’s term, according to Amazon, but that is no excuse for Mr. Appelbaum to distort the truth. Our workers know the truth: minimum pay of $15 or more per hour, health insurance from day one, and a clean and welcoming environment. Both of our workers were asked to vote, and their voices would be heard in the coming days, says Amazon.
What other actions has it taken?
Amazon has stepped up its public-relations activities in recent days, with inconsistent success. According to The Intercept, one of Amazon’s security engineers believed the Amazon News site had been compromised since the tweets were “unnecessarily antagonistic.” It responded angrily to Democratic Party leaders like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Saunders, in addition to the tweet about urinating in bottles. It has also been accused of using fictional Twitter profiles to depict jobs at the company in a good light. Amazon acknowledged that one of these profiles was not that of a real employee, but did not state if it had been produced by the corporation.
Amazon apologizes for incorrectly ignoring the need for drivers to use bottles to urinate. Amazon owes an apology to Representative Pocan, according to a tweet. The message in the tweet was erroneous. It overlooked our huge driver population in favour of focusing solely on their fulfilment centres, which was a mistake. It also mentioned that each of its fulfilment centres has hundreds of restrooms that workers can use at any time. Many Amazon workers cited a variety of news sources who reported their little alternative but that during their jobs they were urinating in plastic bottles. They also identified endless practices, both in their centres of performance and as drivers for distribution. The Intercept also stated that it had received internal documentation to show that Amazon’s management was aware of this.
The apology was rejected by Mr. Pocan on Saturday, tweeting that the apology isn’t his main concern and that it’s about the staff which is not being treated with any respect or dignity. The company should begin by realizing the inadequate working conditions for ALL the employees, improve them for everyone, and eventually encourage them to unionize without intervention.
In a historical survey recently, Amazon’s staff in Bessemer, Alabama decided to represent the Retail, Wholesale, and Store Union. Amazon was firmly against the initiative. Just next week are the findings awaited. It’s going to be Amazon’s first American Union if they vote yes. Amazon has fought against union attempts elsewhere in the United States with results. Many of the European services are, however, unionized.