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Related Categories: San Francisco | Labor & Workers
View events for the week of 3/20/2021
SF Rally for Bessemer Alabama Amazon Workers! Stop Union Busting
Date Saturday March 20
Time 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Event Type Protest
Organizer/AuthorUnited Front Committee For A Labor Party UFCL
Location Details
Proposed SF Amazon Warehouse
900 7th St/Berry St
San Francisco
3/20/21 SF Rally for Bessemer Alabama Amazon Workers!
Stop Union Busting
International Day Of Action
SATURDAY AT 10 AM PDT – 1 PM PDT
Free · 900 7th St./Berry St, San Francisco
https://www.facebook.com/events/2863555327193266/
Event by For A Mass Labor Party In The USA
900 7th St./Berry St, San Francisco
Saturday at 10 AM PDT – 1 PM PDT


On March 20th, there will be an international day of action initiated
by SupportAmazonUnion.org to back the 6,000 Bessemer Alabama warehouse workers who are voting this month for a union.
Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon who is worth nearly $200 billion, is spending tens of millions of dollars to fight their unionization, even offering workers $2,000 to quit so they can’t vote in the election.
Our committee supports Amazon workers' unionization efforts and will discuss the plans by Jeff Bezos to build a massive Amazon warehouse in San Francisco where they have bought an entire square block which they bought for $200 million.
Speak Out For Workers Labor & Human Rights

On March 20th there will be an international day of action initiated
by Support Amazon Union.org to back the 6,000 Bessemer
Alabama warehouse workers who are voting this month for a union. Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon who is worth nearly $200 billion is spending tens of millions of dollars to fight their unionization even offering workers $2,000 to quit so they can’t vote in the election.

In Bessemer 85% of these workers are Black and many our
women with families who need decent working conditions
where they are not spied upon and treated like robots.

Amazon workers like other front line workers have faced
covid and the refusal of Amazon like other companies including
Tesla to provide PPE proper protection on the job.
Yet in China, Amazon and Tesla workers have been protected because the government requries it.

Here, the workers are disposable and many workers and their
families have died for the profits of these billionaries.
In San Francisco, Amazon has spent $200 million for a square
block at 7th and Berry St. to build a massive warehouse with
plans to operate it “union free” so Bezos can contiue to grow
his profits on the backs of these workers. They are also expanding their Whole Foods operations in San Francisco. Working people need to organize and speak out now for the rights of Amazon and Whole Foods workers to have a union!

We will be having a labor community press conference at
900 7th St. San Francisco to speak out on the need to protect worker’s rights and also protect small businesses and our communities in San Francisco.

While the pandemic is and has been an economic disaster for the workers and people of San Francisco it has been very profitable for Amazon as small businesses go bankrupt.

It is time to defend worker and human rights and stop this octopus which is an albatross on the people of people of San Francisco, the US & the world.

Victory To The Bessemer Alabama Amazon Workers
Stop Union Busting
Put A Sign Supporting These Workers On Your Window
SupportAmazonUnion.org
Initiated by United Front Committee For A Labor Party UFCLP
https://foramasslaborparty.wordpress.com
committeeforlaborparty(at)gmail.com

Other events in Northern California

BRISBANE, CA
9:30am Picket
Amazon Fresh, 455 Valley Dr, Brisbane, CA 94005
Contact Western Movement Assembly at withjusticepeace [at] gmail.com or 707-857-6455
Link

MONTEREY, CA
10am – 12pm Picket
Window on the Bay Free Speech Area, Del Monte Blvd across from Lake El Estero
Contact Progressive Democrats Chapter – Monterey Area at gary.karnes [at] comcast.net or 831-402-9106

OAKLAND, CA
1pm Car Caravan & Rally
Gather at Lake Merritt BART Parking Lot, 8th & Oak Street, Oakland, CA
Caravan to several Oakland Amazon Hubs for 2:30pm ending rally at Snow Park (19th and Harrison)
Contact Support Amazon Workers – Bay Area at bayarea [at] supportamazonworkers.org or 510-813-4687
FB event


Amazon submits plans for proposed six-acre warehouse at SF Potrero Hill Recology site
https://hoodline.com/2021/2/amazon-submits-plans-for-proposed-six-acre-warehouse-at-potrero-hill-recology-site/
Image: Google Street View
By Joe Kukura - Published on February 25, 2021.
San FranciscoDesign DistrictPotrero Hill
Online retail behemoth Amazon has not exactly “announced” their plans for what they’re going to do with the six-acre Recology site they bought in mid-December, merely saying in a statement at the time “We are excited to make this investment in San Francisco that will create jobs and help ensure we can reliably and efficiently deliver to our growing number of customers in the Bay Area.” But SocketSite noticed that Amazon’s plans were quietly posted to the Planning Department website Thursday morning, and these four very technical PDF files shed some light on what Amazon’s intends to do.

It is rather difficult to dig up plans at the Planning Department website, and as such, we can only post screenshots because the site does not allow for direct links. If you want to see the plans for yourself, you have to go to the SF Planning Property Information Map, type in the address “900 7TH ST,” and then click on the field Planning Application. You’ll see a list of the four PDFs, which are just submitted plans, and have only begun their review and approval process.

There are no fancy artist renderings like you see when housing and condo projects are proposed, mostly just pictures of the seven fairly gritty lots, and architectural drawings to make little sense to a lay person. "The Project proposes to merge the seven existing lots into a single lot, demolish all existing structures on the Project Site,” according to the Preliminary Project Assessment (PPA) Amazon submitted.

The Cliff Notes summary here is that the company wants to build a three-story warehouse structure, with 650,000 square feet of delivery center and 17,400 square feet of offices. They also promise “An approximate 13,700 square foot publicly accessible open space would be provided at the corner of 7th and Berry streets.”

Each floor would be more than 200,000 square feet. The first level would just be a delivery station, the second floor is garage space for delivery vehicles, the third floor is a mix of garage space and office space. Employees would park in an open-air parking lot on the roof.

Do not expect smooth sailing for this proposal from either the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors. The facility would be in Supervisor Shamann Walton’s District 10, and he’s previously had words about the general unkemptness of an Amazon Fresh facility in Dogpatch.

“Their site in Dogpatch has caused continuous problems for neighbors, and they have been extremely dilatory in presenting and providing solutions,” Walton told the Chronicle in December. “They would never treat neighbors at their facility in Seattle the way they have in my district. That needs to change.”

Again, these are merely plans submitted by Amazon, and they’ve only started the city review and approval process. No dates have been announced for these plans to be heard by the SF Planning Commission.

Amazon Ordered to Close Canadian Facility on Covid-19 Cases
https://www.bloomberg.com/.../amazon-ordered-to-close...
By Danielle Bochove and Matt Day March 12, 2021, 12:48 PM PST Updated on March 12, 2021, 3:25 PM PST
Local health officials wants firm to make ‘additional changes’ Essential workers need more protection: Peel medical officer
Amazon.com Inc. has been ordered to close a facility outside Toronto for two weeks as public health officials worry about rising Covid-19 cases inside the complex.
While the rate of Covid-19 infection has been falling in the Peel region in the past few weeks, the rate inside the Brampton, Ontario, fulfillment center “has been increasing significantly,” the local health authority said Friday in a statement. Every employee at the site may have experienced “high-risk exposure,” the agency said.

“This Amazon facility is in a vulnerable community and employs thousands of people,” Lawrence C. Loh, medical officer of health for the Peel region, said in the statement. “This was a difficult decision but a necessary one to stop further spread both in the facility and across our community.”

Amazon disagreed with the health authority’s conclusions. “We just completed our most recent round of mandatory testing with less than a 1% positivity rate, and there appears to be little risk of spread within our facility,” a company spokesperson said in an email. “We do not believe the data supports this closure and we will appeal this decision.”

Amazon has been dealing with Covid-19 in its warehouses and other logistics facilities for more than a year after the first cases were detected among its workforce in early European hotspots for the virus.

The online retail giant has opted to keep facilities with outbreaks running with enhanced cleaning measures and social distancing procedures rather than shut them down.

Exceptions include a Kentucky warehouse the state governor ordered closed after an outbreak last year, and a New Jersey warehouse temporarily shuttered in December after the discovery of asymptomatic cases.

All employees at the Canadian facility will be required to self-isolate for 14 days unless they’ve tested positive in the past 90 days and have completed their isolation period, the health agency said.

Peel Public Health is working with Amazon Canada to control the outbreak, it said. The two-week closing will give Amazon Canada time to consider “additional operational changes” recommended by local health authorities.

Some 20,000 Amazon employees had Covid-19 during the pandemic’s first six months, a rate of infection that Amazon said was less than would have been expected of an employer of its size, though some experts say the company provided insufficient data to evaluate that claim.

“Nothing’s more important than the health and safety of our employees and the communities we serve,” the Amazon spokesperson said. “We have done and are doing everything we can to support them and keep them safe through the pandemic, including regularly requiring 100% testing of all employees” at the Ontario facility.
— With assistance by Stephen Wicary

March 20: International Day of Solidarity With Alabama Amazon Workers & Against Union Busting on World Day Against Racism
https://supportamazonworkers.org/march20/


Between Feb 8, and March 29, approximately 6,000 Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama will begin voting by mail on whether to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Workers Union (RWDSU). The harsh working conditions at Amazon warehouses, along with Amazon’s refusal to adopt measures that protect workers from COVID 19, have pushed Amazon and Whole Foods workers every- where to step up organizing and fighting back.

These predominantly Black workers who have in recent months formed the BAmazon Workers Union, are on the cusp of launching a history-changing workers organization against one of the biggest and most powerful transnational corporations in the world, and its super rich union busting owner, Jeff Bezos. In addition, these workers are standing up to the racist, anti-union laws that suppress labor across the South.

Solidarity from every corner of the labor and progressive movements is needed now to show the workers in Bessemer that they are not alone, that all eyes are on the historic struggle that they are leading. This is especially needed as Amazon ramps up their union-busting tactics.

If you would like to organize an action in your area or submit an endorsement for the day of action from your organization, please use this form.

Arkansas
FAYETTEVILLE, AR
1:30pm Rally
Whole Foods, 3425 N College Ave, Fayetteville, AR 72703
Contact NWA Socialist Alternative at arkansasSA [at] gmail.com
FB event

Arizona
TUCSON, AZ
10am Picket
Whole Foods, 3360 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85716
Contact Pima Area Labor Federation at trishmuirpalf [at] gmail.com or 520-548-9510
FB event

California
BRISBANE, CA
9:30am Picket
Amazon Fresh, 455 Valley Dr, Brisbane, CA 94005
Contact Western Movement Assembly at withjusticepeace [at] gmail.com or 707-857-6455
Link

MONTEREY, CA
10am – 12pm Picket
Window on the Bay Free Speech Area, Del Monte Blvd across from Lake El Estero
Contact Progressive Democrats Chapter – Monterey Area at gary.karnes [at] comcast.net or 831-402-9106

OAKLAND, CA
1pm Car Caravan & Rally
Gather at Lake Merritt BART Parking Lot, 8th & Oak Street, Oakland, CA

Caravan to several Oakland Amazon Hubs for 2:30pm ending rally at Snow Park (19th and Harrison)
Contact Support Amazon Workers – Bay Area at bayarea [at] supportamazonworkers.org or 510-813-4687
FB event

SAN DIEGO, CA
2pm Picket & Rally
Whole Foods, 711 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Contact Socialist Alternative San Diego at sdsocialistalternative [at] gmail.com or 619-346-2156
FB event

SAN FRANCISCO, CA
10am Picket & Speak-Out
7th & Berry Street, San Francisco, CA
Contact United Front Committee for a Labor Party at committeeforlaborparty [at] gmail.com or 415-533-5642
FB event

Canada
TORONTO
11am – 3pm Informational Picket, Speakers at 2pm
Whole Foods, 81 Avenue Rd, Toronto
Contact Toronto – Democratic Socialists of Canada at toronto [at] democraticsocialists.ca

Colorado
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
12pm Picket
Whole Foods, 7635 N Academy Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80920
Contact Colorado Springs Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America at cospringsdsa [at] gmail.com
FB event

District of Columbia
WASHINGTON, DC
3pm Rally
Whole Foods, 1440 P St NW, Washington, DC
Contact Progressive Labor Party at revolution500 [at] gmail.com or 202-253-4880

Georgia
ATLANTA, GA
12pm Rally
Gather at the intersection of N. Commerce and Camp Creek Parkway (across from Camp Creek Mall), East Point, GA
Initiated by ATL Amazon Workers Solidarity Network, Atlanta-N. Georgia Labor Council, Atlanta Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
Contact ATL Amazon Workers Solidarity Network at atlanta [at] supportamazonworkers.org

Idaho
NAMPA, ID
10am Car Caravan
BOI2 Amazon Fulfillment Center, 5319 E Franklin Rd, Nampa, ID 83687
Contact Nampa Education Association at coffeyidaho [at] gmail.com or 208-559-3883

Illinois
CHICAGO, IL
1pm Rally & March
Federal Plaza, S. Dearborn St, Chicago, IL
Contact Chicago Labor Solidarity at chicagolaborsolidarity [at] gmail.com
FB event
Maryland
BALTIMORE, MD
2pm Rally at City Hall & March to Whole Foods
Gather at City Hall, 100 Holliday Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
Contact Baltimore Maryland Amazon Workers for Justice & People’s Power Assembly – Baltimore at peoplespowerassemblyhour [at] gmail.com or 410-218-4835
FB event

Massachusetts
BOSTON, MA
12pm Rally
Whole Foods, 348 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA
Contact Boston Socialist Alternative at boston [at] socialistalternative.org or 781-708-3858
FB event
GREENFIELD, MA
10am Gathering
Greenfield Common
Contact Patrick Falvey at plfalvey [at] gmail.com or 413-824-0401
HADLEY, MA
11am Standout
Whole Foods, 327 Russel St, Hadley, MA 01035
Co-sponsors: Latin America Solidarity Coalition WMASS, CODEPINK WMASS, Mass Jobs with Justice, Western Mass Area Labor Federation
Contact Latin America Solidarity Coalition WMASS at yoav [at] masspeaceaction.org
Michigan
ANN ARBOR, MI
1pm Picket
Whole Foods, 3135 Washtenaw Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Contact Coalition for Workers Rights at carrollz [at] umich.edu or 734-662-6036
LANSING, MI
*March 17* 11am Rally for unemployment extension and solidarity with Amazon workers
State Capitol Building, 100 N. Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933
Contact IATSE Local 26 at mail [at] iatse26.org

New Jersey
EDISON, NJ
4pm Rally
Amazon Fulfillment Center (LGA9), 2170 NJ-27, Edison, NJ 08817
Contact Central Jersey Socialists at centraljerseysocialists [at] gmail.com or 908-938-8756
FB event
NEWARK, NJ
2pm Rally
Whole Foods, 633 Broad Street, Newark, NJ
Contact Peoples Party New Jersey at peoplespartynewjersey [at] gmail.com or 973-487-8218
FB event
TEANECK, NJ
*March 17* 4pm Vigil
Teaneck National Guard Armory, 1799 Teaneck Rd. (Gather at SE corner of Teaneck Rd & Liberty Rd), Teaneck, NJ 07666
Contact Teaneck Peace Vigil and Veterans for Peace Chapter 021 (Northern New Jersey) at ambar35 [at] comcast.net or 201-388-1684
FB event

New York
HARLEM, NY
2pm Demonstration
Whole Foods, 125th St & Malcolm X Blvd, Harlem, NY
Contact December 12th Movement (718-398-1766), NY Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (646-523-8484), or Workers Assembly Against Racism (waarnyc [at] solidaritymail.org or 646-470-4667/917-825-2302)
FB event
BROOKLYN, NY
12pm Rally
Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Contact Socialist Alternative at ny [at] socialistalternative.org or 347-457-6069
FB event

North Carolina
DURHAM, NC
1pm Rally
Meet at 1pm and Park at 2945 S. Miami Blvd Shopping Center, Durham, NC
1:30pm – Rally at 1805 TW Alexander Dr, Durham, NC
Contact Dante Strobino at dantestrobino [at] gmail.com or 919-539-2051
FB event
KERNERSVILLE, NC
5:30pm Rally
Amazon Warehouse, 1656 Old Greensboro Rd, Kernersville, NC 27284
Contact Winston-Salem DSA at taramccomb [at] gmail.com or 734-709-3411
Ohio
CINCINNATI, OH
3pm Picket
241 Calhoun St, Clifton, OH
Contact Cincinnati Socialist Alternative at cincinnati [at] socialistalternative.org
FB event
CLEVELAND, OH
12pm Picket
Across from Amazon Facility, Gather at Euclid Transit Center, 23900 St. Clair Ave, Euclid, OH 44132
Contact Support Alabama Amazon Workers – Cleveland at grevatt.m [at] gmail.com or 216-534-6435
COLUMBUS, OH
1pm Rally
Amazon Locker, 2114 N High St, Columbus, OH
Contact Columbus Socialist Alternative at socialistalternativecolumbus [at] gmail.com
FB event
Oregon
PORTLAND, OR
1pm Picket & Rally
Whole Foods
Pennsylvania
PHILADELPHIA, PA
2pm Rally & March
Morgan Lewis, 1701 Market St, Philadelphia, PA
Contact Scott Williams at thescott0730 [at] gmail.com or 919-794-1429
FB event
PITTSBURGH, PA
12pm Picket
Whole Foods, 5880 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Contact New Afrikan Workers Union at khalidraheem [at] newafrikanworkers.org or 412-606-0059
FB event
South Carolina
CHARLESTON, SC
1pm – 2pm Rally
Whole Foods, 1125 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407
Contact Charleston Alliance for Fair Employment at 843-830-4471 or lrileyjr [at] comcast.net

COLUMBIA, SC
4pm Rally
Whole Foods, 702 Cross Hill Road, Columbia, SC 29205
Contact Lawrence Moore at 803-238-0331 or lawmoore74 [at] gmail.com
Texas
DALLAS, TX
1pm Rally
1301 Chalk Hill Road, Dallas, TX
Contact North Texas Socialist Alternative at socialistaltntx [at] gmail.com or 774-264-1364
FB event
HOUSTON, TX
1pm Rally & Picket
Amazon Delivery Station, S Lockwood and Munger St, Houston, Texas 77019
Contact Socialist Alternative Houston at socialistalternativehouston [at] gmail.com or 281-635-5286
FB event
HOUSTON, TX
*Sun, March 21* 12pm Picket
Whole Foods, 701 Waugh Drive, Houston, Texas 77019
Contact Workers World Party – Houston at houston [at] workers.org or 713-503-2633
FB event
SAN ANTONIO, TX
12pm Picket
Whole Foods @ the Quarry, 255 E Basse Rd, San Antonio, Texas
Contact Teresa Gutierrez at teresalatejana [at] gmail.com

Washington
SEATTLE, WA
2pm Rally & March
Amazon Spheres (Amazon’s Headquarters), 211 7th Ave, Seattle, WA
Contact Socialist Democratic Socialists of America at info [at] seattledsa.org
FB event

Amazon fights aggressively to defeat union drive in Alabama, fearing a coming wave
Amazon’s relentless push to beat back a union drive among warehouse workers mirrors the company’s past efforts to oppose unions in Seattle, New York, Canada and the United Kingdom
https://www.washingtonpost.com/.../amazon-union-bessemer.../
Image without a caption
Demonstrators hold signs during a protest by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union outside an Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Ala., on Feb. 7. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg News)
By Jay Greene
March 9, 2021 at 3:00 a.m. PST
SEATTLE — A worker who picks items from the shelves of an Amazon warehouse in the area here was recently inspired to unionize.
The worker had been watching the push by thousands of Amazon warehouse employees in Bessemer, Ala., to join a union. He became one of more than 1,000 Amazon workers in the United States who contacted the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in recent weeks to see what it might take to start an organizing drive at his facility. And he says that an Alabama victory would inspire more of his co-workers to join the fight.
“It would help very much if Alabama votes yes,” said the worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by a company that has been accused of firing workers for speaking out. “The chances that we’ll do something increases.”
Amazon’s anti-union blitz stalks Alabama warehouse workers everywhere, even the bathroom
The interest shows how seeds of unionization efforts at one U.S. warehouse could blossom into organizing drives at its other facilities and force Amazon to adopt workplace rules it finds restrictive. Among other problems, unions could dent the company’s flexibility, limiting its ability to rapidly hire and cut workers to meet shopping demands that spike and recede throughout the year, said former company executives who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about internal policy.
And it explains why Amazon is fighting aggressively to defeat the union drive in Alabama, as well as quieter ongoing workers’ efforts at facilities from Iowa to the United Kingdom. That’s a strategy it has followed throughout its 27-year existence, including using hard-nosed tactics to stop the Alabama drive from a well-worn playbook.
Veterans of Amazon labor fights say the company will use whatever methods are available to prevent a new union at its operations. In 2019, the United Kingdom’s GMB Union filed documents to form a collective bargaining unit at Amazon’s warehouse in Rugeley, near Birmingham, England. But Amazon mounted a successful campaign before the country’s labor regulator to challenge the number of workers the union claimed supported it, a tactic the union had never before encountered, said Mick Rix, GMB’s national officer.
“We know Amazon will leave no stone unturned to beat you,” Rix said. “It was a harsh lesson to learn.”
Amazon needs its workers more than ever, giving them leverage to push for safer warehouses
Many of the 5,805 employees in Bessemer who are in the middle of a seven-week mail-in voting period to decide whether they want the RWDSU to represent them, receive four or five emails a day from the company to discourage unionization. The vote ends March 29. The company has pressed its anti-union case with banners at the warehouse and even fliers posted inside bathroom stalls.
The RWDSU has recently cited a mailbox popping up on company property that could signal to workers that it has a role in the running of the election, as well as a financial offer luring unhappy workers to quit as questionable tactics by a company hellbent on crushing the union.
The company opposes unionization, noting that it often pays more than its peers, and offers health-care, vision and dental benefits, a retirement plan, and opportunities for advancement, Amazon spokeswoman Heather Knox said.
“For over 20 years Amazon employees have chosen to maintain a direct relationship with their managers, which may be because Amazon already offers what unions are requesting,” she said in an emailed statement.
Knox declined to comment on past unionization efforts at the company.
(Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Amazon sees unionization as a threat to its ability to bring technical innovations to its warehouses that reduce reliance on workers, such as robots, one of the former executives who discussed management thinking about unions said. Another former executive said Amazon leadership worries that organized labor could scuttle expansion plans, forcing the company to negotiate the terms of hiring, laying off staff, as well as the number of temporary workers it could take on, the executive said.
“Unionizing definitely impacts overall flexibility and workforce management,” the former executive said.
Workers protest at Instacart, Amazon and Whole Foods for health protections and hazard pay
Union success in Alabama could fuel organizing drives in Washington state and beyond, triggering nascent collective worker movements Amazon has quelled in recent months at facilities in Minnesota and New York. The fear for Amazon’s leadership is that it could be bound by rigid contracts across the country that limit its agility, the executive said.
“That economic thing becomes fundamental,” the executive said.
But labor’s momentum from Alabama may be building. The Bessemer fight has sparked organizing ambitions of Amazon workers at other facilities.
Image without a caption
The words "Solidarity with Bessemer" are painted on a car as demonstrators participate in a Tax Amazon car caravan and bike brigade to defend a payroll-based tax on big businesses. (Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images)
“More than 1,000 Amazon workers from around the country have reached out to the RWDSU seeking information about unionizing their workplaces,” union spokeswoman Chelsea Connor said.
And local organizers for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters told the Des Moines Register in February that they’ve approached 400 to 500 workers at Amazon facilities in Iowa to organize. While on-the-ground organizers suggested that Amazon’s Iowa staff might strike to try to persuade the e-commerce giant to recognize the union they want to form, the union’s national leaders said that is just one possible tactic.
“What’s happening in Iowa is happening in a lot of other areas,” said Randy Korgan, director of Amazon Project, a Teamsters organizing initiative. “It’s happening in all corners of the country.”
Although many of Amazon’s European workers are members of unions, largely because organized labor is part of the cultural fabric of those countries, the company hasn’t yet faced a successful unionization threat in the United States. The closest was a bid by a small group of equipment maintenance and repair technicians at its warehouse in Middletown, Del., in 2014. Those workers ultimately voted against forming a union, following a drive led by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
Amazon’s warehouse workers sound alarms about coronavirus spread
Amazon has been fending off unsuccessful union bids for decades. In 2000, the Communications Workers of America tried to persuade 400 Amazon call-center workers in Seattle to unionize. In an era in which Amazon couldn’t pepper workers with texts as it does in Bessemer, managers harangued workers with regular one-on-one meetings, said Marcus Courtney, who worked on the organizing drive. The messages then were the same as now: A union will cost them in terms of dues and the direct line they have with managers.
“They were very aggressive, going right up to the edge” of what labor law allowed, he said. “That’s very intimidating for an employee.”
Amazon’s campaign paid off then as support for the organizing drive withered, Courtney said. Within a few months, the dot-com bubble that fueled the rise of Amazon burst, and the company shut down the call center.
The company’s effectiveness at stopping unionization drives is one reason the potential for success in Bessemer is so alluring to labor activists. Amazon is the emerging face of the nation’s blue-collar workforce. The company added 500,000 employees to its payroll in 2020, bringing its total worldwide employment to 1.3 million workers. It’s the second-largest private employer in the United States behind only Walmart, which also has worked successfully for years to stave off unionization in its U.S. operations.
The drive got an enormous boost late last month from President Biden, who tweeted a video saying workers should be able to make their decision in the election without pressure from the company. Although Biden didn’t name Amazon in the video, he made it clear that he supports the union drive.
“Today and over the next few days and weeks, workers in Alabama, and all across America, are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace,” Biden said. “There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda.”
Biden hails Amazon workers pressing to unionize in Alabama in unusual sign of support
Despite past failed attempts at organizing Amazon workers, the RWDSU has reason to think this campaign has a shot at succeeding. The union claims more than 3,000 workers have signed cards authorizing the RWDSU to represent them, although it acknowledges that some of them may have left the company. That’s more than half of the 5,805 workers the National Labor Relations Board determined can vote in the union election.
The Bessemer workers who support the union complain about aggressive productivity goals Amazon sets for them, targets that can be exhausting for employees racing to stow, pick or pack goods at the massive warehouse. Many of the employees remain concerned about catching the coronavirus at the facility, where the company has noted in a filing that 218 of the 7,575 employees of Amazon and third parties who work at the facility tested positive for the virus in the two weeks preceding Jan. 7. And some want Amazon to restore the $2-an-hour bonus it instituted at the start of the pandemic but eliminated at the end of May.
Almost as soon as its Bessemer workers filed paperwork in November with the NLRB to hold a vote to join the RWDSU, Amazon began a campaign to thwart that bid.
Now that the seven-week mail-in voting period has begun, Amazon has stopped the mandatory meetings, which are proscribed during the voting period. But it has engaged in other anti-union tactics that have riled the union.
Amazon to face first U.S. unionization vote in seven years next month
In a January filing with the NLRB, the company suggested conducting in-person balloting in a tent set up in the parking lot outside the warehouse, committing to agency rules to avoid creating “the impression that any party controls employee access to the Board’s election processes.” The NLRB rejected that proposal, instead calling for mail-in ballots to protect workers, as well as agency staff, from the spread of the coronavirus.
But just as the mail-in voting began, a mailbox appeared in the parking lot in front of the warehouse, inside a tent.
“Speak for yourself! Mail your ballot here,” reads a banner on the tent.
The mailbox — the type of unmarked units with individually locked compartments and a mail slot that are common in apartment and condo buildings — doesn’t have U.S. Postal Service markings. But the Postal Service owns the box and suggested putting it at the warehouse, Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said. He declined to elaborate on why the agency, which counts Amazon as its largest corporate client, decided to install the mailbox at the start of the mail-in election, or what led it to put the mailbox on Amazon property.
Image without a caption
The Amazon warehouse where employees are working towards becoming the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the country. (Cameron Carnes for The Washington Post)
In a text to Bessemer employees, Amazon wrote that only the Postal Service has the key to access outgoing mail.
“As we have said all along, every employee should have the opportunity to vote in this important decision,” Knox said in an emailed statement. “This mailbox is enclosed in a tent making it convenient, safe, and private for our employees to vote on their way to and from work if they choose to, or use it for any of their other mailing needs.”
But placing a mailbox on company property with company signage could lead workers to think that Amazon has some role in collecting and counting ballots, which could influence their votes, said Craig Becker, the AFL-CIO’s general counsel and a former NLRB member appointed by President Barack Obama.
“They are trying to assert control over the mechanics [of the election] in a way that has already been rejected by the regional director and the board,” Becker said.
Amazon effort to thwart Alabama union drive suffers early defeat at labor board
The union is also concerned about an Amazon initiative to pay unhappy warehouse workers to leave. In late February, the company extended what it calls “The Offer.” It’s a bonus, starting at $1,000, to quit.
Amazon began the initiative in 2014 and extends the offer to all its warehouse staff in North America. Only full-time workers who have been with the company for a year qualify. That limits the number of eligible workers at the Bessemer warehouse, which opened at the end of March 2020, to employees who transferred there from another Amazon facility, company spokeswoman Rena Lunak said. She declined to disclose the number of Bessemer workers who do qualify.
But the union expects the election to be close and sees The Offer as a way to weed out Bessemer workers who might have otherwise sided with them, because the ballots of ex-employees won’t count.
“They are trying to get people who are not happy workers to quit because they know unhappy workers are the ones who will vote for the union,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said. “They know perfectly well what the impact would be in Bessemer.”
One Bessemer worker has filed an unfair labor practices claim with the NLRB about Amazon’s anti-union website — DoItWithoutDues.com. The site falsely argues that workers would have to pay dues in Alabama, a “right-to-work” state where dues-paying isn’t required with unionized employers. In a handwritten filing on Feb. 11, the worker, whose name the NLRB redacted when it released the document, accuses the company, through the website, of trying to “restrain” employees from forming a union.
“The statements on the site aim to intimidate employees and coerce them into not organizing, and thus interferes directly with the proposed formation” of the union, the filing claims.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s successor will inherit his challenges
Lawmakers, too, have raised questions about Amazon’s tactics to thwart unionization. Last fall, four senators, including Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), sent a letter to Bezosasking him to respond to a report in Vice that the company infiltrated private social media groups to track employee discussion of unionization, and a report by Recode that it invested in technology to track union organizing.
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Demonstrators hold signs during an RWDSU held protest outside the Amazon.com Inc. BHM1 Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, Alabama, U.S. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg)
The company doesn’t track individuals who participate in “protected activities,” such as union drives, Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, wrote in reply.
“Amazon does not discourage workers from organizing,” Huseman wrote. “Rather, Amazon recognizes all of our associates’ rights to decide whether union representation is right for them.”
In the United Kingdom, the GMB Union is targeting two other Amazon facilities in the country after coming up short at Rugeley, the union’s Rix said. He declined to name them. But this time, Rix said, the union is pressing to get more than half of the proposed bargaining unit at the Amazon sites to pay membership dues, which is how the country’s regulators determine their support for an organizing drive. It’s a much harder task, but one that might preempt Amazon’s anti-union efforts, Rix said.
“We’ve got to do the job in a harder way,” Rix said.
Amazon is fighting a different set of workers in Canada. The United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Local 175 accused the company’s Canadian subsidiary in a filing to the Ontario Labour Relations Board of illegally orchestrating a union-busting campaign at the subcontractors who deliver packages in the province. The union claims Amazon pushed to fire union organizers at the delivery companies, many of whose workers wear Amazon uniforms and exclusively deliver Amazon packages. Amazon also cut business to delivery services with unionized drivers, ultimately putting them out of business, according to the union’s filing.
“Amazon has engaged in a course of conduct intended to defeat unionization by contracting shell companies or subcontractors to supply it with courier drivers over whom Amazon has complete direction and control,” the union alleges in its filing, which is still pending.
Amazon fires two tech workers who criticized the company’s warehouse workplace conditions
The tactics have discouraged drivers, many of whom are recent immigrants to Canada, from unionizing, said Tim Deelstra, a spokesman for two UFCW locals in Ontario.
“It sent a chilling effect throughout the community,” Deelstra said.
When a group of workers at an Amazon warehouse in Shakopee, Minn., walked off the job during the company’s Prime Day yearly sales event in 2019, the company hired more than a dozen off-duty city police, stationing them inside and outside the facility, said Tyler Hamilton, a 24-year-old trainer at the site.
“That’s very intimidating,” Hamilton said, noting that many of the warehouse workers are recent East African immigrants. “That’s a show of force.”
He supports the union drive in Bessemer, in part, because he thinks it will send a message to Amazon, and to its workers globally.
“That would set a precedent,” Hamilton said. “That starts opening doors.”
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Added to the calendar on Tuesday Mar 16th, 2021 2:09 PM
§Rally In SF At Proposed Amazon's Massive Warehouse
by United Front Committee For A Labor Party UFCL
Tuesday Mar 16th, 2021 2:09 PM
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As part of an international day of action for Amazon workers, there will be a rally at the proposed massive Amazon warehouse in San Francisco at 900 7th St/Berry.
Amazon wants to set up this massive non-union operation in San Francisco which threatens UPS, USPO and other unionized workplaces in San Francisco. It also is a threat to small businesses in San Francisco which Amazon is driving out of business like Wal-Mart did around the country.
§Amazon Murders Workers On The Job
by United Front Committee For A Labor Party UFCL
Tuesday Mar 16th, 2021 2:09 PM
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Amazon workers are dying on the job because of the refusal of Amazon to provide PPE and health and safety protection. While Amazon in China has been forced to provide health and safety protection for their workers in the US Amazon workers are treated as disposables.
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