Amazon Hired Koch-Backed Anti-Union Consultant to Fight Alabama Organizing

Labor News

Reprinted from The Intercept UK by on February 10, 2021.

Amazon is bringing on a set of well-trained union suppression consultants in its high-profile fight to keep its massive warehouse workforce free of organized labor.

The Seattle-based conglomerate recently retained a consultant named Russell Brown to help thwart the union election that began recently at its fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama, new disclosures show.

Brown was brought on by Amazon on January 25 for a contract to help persuade Amazon’s Alabama employees not to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, or RWDSU, a union that is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers, also known as the UFCW. He is paid $3,200 per day, plus expenses, for the work.

Brown is the head of RWP Labor, which touts itself as a specialty firm that assists companies in “maintaining a union free workplace.” The company features a team of consultants that includes a former International Brotherhood of Teamsters trainer who now assists corporations with defeating union campaigns. The firm brags that it has won many previous anti-union drives and specializes in training company leaders, persuading employees, and developing corporate social responsibility plans devised to prevent union interference.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. …

The Intercept UK 2/10

 

Kolhatkar: Why Amazon is Fighting So Hard to Stop Warehouse Workers From Unionizing

Reprinted from Counter-Punch by

“Thousands of warehouse workers at an Amazon plant in Bessemer, Alabama, are at the center of a potentially game-changing union vote taking place right now,” writes Sonali Kolhatkar for CounterPunch. “On February 8, the warehouse workers were sent ballots by mail to decide over the next seven weeks if they want to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). Just getting to this point was a major victory considering the aggressive union busting by the world’s largest retailer and the fact that employees are working during a pandemic. If workers vote affirmatively, they would have the first unionized Amazon workplace in the United States.

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“Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the RWDSU, described to me in an interview the shocking details of what he calls ‘the most aggressive anti-union effort I’ve ever seen,’ aimed at the 5,800-strong workforce. ‘They are doing everything they possibly can,’ he said. The company has been ‘bombarding people with propaganda throughout the warehouse. There are signs and banners and posters everywhere, even in the bathroom stalls.’

“According to Appelbaum, the company is also texting its workers throughout the course of the day urging a ‘no’ vote and pulling people into ‘captive-audience’ meetings. Unsurprisingly, Amazon is resorting to the most commonly told lie about unions: that it will cost workers more money to be in a union than not. One poster pasted on the wall of the warehouse claims, ‘you already know the union would charge you almost $500 a year in dues.’ But Alabama is a ‘right-to-work’ state where workers cannot be compelled to join a union if they are hired into a union shop, nor can they be required to pay dues. ..

Counter-Punch 2/15

 

Amazon Faces Biggest Union Push in Its History

Reprinted from The San Francisco Chronicle by

… If organizers succeed in Bessemer, it could set off a chain reaction across Amazon’s operations nationwide, with thousands more workers rising up and demanding better working conditions. But they face an uphill battle against the second-largest employer in the country with a history of crushing unionizing efforts at its warehouses and its Whole Foods grocery stores.

Attempts by Amazon to delay the vote in Bessemer have failed. So too have the company’s efforts to require in-person voting, which organizers argue would be unsafe during the pandemic. Mail-in voting started this week and will go on until the end of March. A majority of the 6,000 employees have to vote “yes” in order to unionize.

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Amazon, whose profits and revenues have skyrocketed during the pandemic, has campaigned hard to convince workers that a union will only suck money from their paycheck with little benefit. Spokeswoman Rachael Lighty says the company already offers them what unions want: benefits, career growth and pay that starts at $15 an hour. She adds that the organizers don’t represent the majority of Amazon employees’ views. …

SF Chronicle 2/12

About Jeffrey Burman 861 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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