Reprinted from The New York Times by Karen Weise and on April 9, 2021.
Amazon workers at a giant warehouse in Alabama voted decisively against forming a union on Friday, squashing the most significant labor drive in the internet giant’s history.
Workers cast 1,798 votes against a union, giving Amazon enough to emphatically defeat the effort. Ballots in favor of a union trailed at 738, less than 30 percent of the votes tallied, according to federal officials.
The lopsided outcome at the 6,000-person warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, dealt a crushing blow to labor organizers, Democrats and their allies at a time when conditions have been ripe for unions to make advances.
Amazon, which has repeatedly quashed labor activism, had appeared vulnerable as it faced increasing scrutiny in Washington and around the world for its market power and influence. President Biden signaled support for the union effort, as did Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent. The pandemic, which drove millions of people to shop online, also spotlighted the plight of essential workers and raised questions about Amazon’s ability to keep those employees safe. …
Union Loss May Bring New Phase of Campaign Against Amazon
Reprinted from The New York Times by Noam Scheiber on April 9, 2021.
The lopsided vote against a union at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, was a major disappointment to organized labor, which regards the fight with Amazon as central to labor’s survival. Yet the defeat doesn’t mark the end of the campaign against Amazon so much as a shift in strategy.
In interviews, labor leaders said they would step up their informal efforts to highlight and resist the company’s business and labor practices rather than seek elections at individual job sites, as in Bessemer. The approach includes everything from walkouts and protests to public relations campaigns that draw attention to Amazon’s leverage over its customers and competitors.
“We’re focused on building a new type of labor movement where we don’t rely on the election process to raise standards,” said Jesse Case, secretary-treasurer of a Teamsters local in Iowa that is seeking to rally the state’s Amazon drivers and warehouse workers to pressure the company. …