Stuart Applebaum (Stuart Applebaum) has heard this kind of controversy before. Conversely, union organizers should quietly oppose non-union higher wages or better working conditions, because this makes it more difficult to motivate workers to join unions because they have nothing to fight for.
But Applebaum, the union boss who tried to organize Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, disagrees with this theory. That’s why he was excited when he saw California lawmakers trying to bring into law the same work rate protection measures he had been pushing for workers in the southern hinterland.
“Look, we want to make workers’ lives better,” said the chairman of the retail, wholesale and department store unions. “Legislation is good. But union contracts are better.”
Last week, California lawmakers approved a piece of legislation that gives Amazon and other warehouse workers the legal right to postpone work rate requirements, such as those commonly found in Amazon warehouses. If signed into law, the measure will require public reporting of speed quotas-which is the reason for Amazon’s unusually high employee turnover rate-and public disclosure of how these work rate algorithms affect employee health.
An Amazon spokesperson could not be reached for comment on the new California warehouse worker protection measures.
In California, this measure is part of a series of legislative and legal efforts by Amazon, which is the second largest employer in the country and has 950,000 workers in the United States.From the country Antitrust efforts against online giantsRegarding the promotion of its congressional delegation in Washington, DC, which accused the company of promoting the anti-vaccine campaign, Amazon found it difficult to make friends with the government in one of its largest domestic markets.
However, none of this seems to slow the company down. On Tuesday, Amazon announced that it will recruit 125,000 employees across the United States, mainly engaged in warehouse-related work. This is in addition to the 40,000 corporate and technical jobs announced by the company in early September.
In addition, the company also pointed out that in addition to the standard welfare program, it has also revised the wage standard, with a starting salary of US$18 to US$22.50 per hour.
“Before Amazon, I was washing a car and making $9 an hour. Then I came to Amazon and I started making $15 an hour-which changed my life,” said Leonardo, an operations employee at Amazon’s Miami fulfillment center. Said in a statement provided by the company.
“This is the first time in my life I have dental insurance, vision insurance and life insurance. Now I have it here and I feel very good.”
But Applebaum and other labor activists said that without the promotion of labor unions and state and federal regulatory agencies, these changes in Amazon’s warehouses would not have occurred. This is why, Applebaum added, he believes that California’s warehouse worker-friendly legislation will not have much impact on union organizations. He said that there are many issues of interest within the company.
“First, let me say that we applaud the California legislators for approving the legislation. Workers need to be transparent about job expectations,” he said. “But there are still many problems to be solved.”
In Bessemer, RWDSU tried to organize nearly 6,000 warehouse workers in Amazon’s first union store. Organizers tried to capture the high wastage rate of warehouses (the union estimated at 150% per year) and used lower wage rates compared to other local warehouses and the same work rate formula mentioned in California legislation.
Although the union lost the initial worker vote by a 2-1 advantage in April, shortly after the election, the hearing officer of the National Labor Relations Board stated that Amazon violated permitted guidelines and improperly reported to Alabama warehouse workers. Put pressure on it to oppose Bessemer fulfillment warehouse joining the union. Therefore, the hearing proposed in a report that the election should be held again.
It is expected that the NLRB Regional Director will soon make a decision on whether to hold the second election. But another vote did not guarantee the union’s success. Excuses aside, the first vote failed by a larger margin. And the company’s high turnover rate keeps the number of qualified voters very small.
Even so, Applebaum still sees California legislation, the Congressional antitrust plan, and the struggle in Alabama as part of the same growing idea: the government needs to step in and protect workers who Amazon doesn’t.
“These are not random events,” he said. “People are looking at Amazon in a new light.”