26 votes

Amazon workers vote down Alabama union campaign

23 comments

  1. [2]
    JXM
    Link
    So nearly 15% of the ballots were not counted. Hardly seems like a fair election and Amazon's underhanded and disgusting tactics are further proof that they are legitimately scared of what will...

    The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has tallied 1,700 “no” votes on the measure, more than half of the 3,215 ballots cast by employees at the BHM1 fulfillment center. Roughly 700 votes that have been counted voted in favor of the union, and approximately 500 of the total ballots were contested, mostly by Amazon.

    So nearly 15% of the ballots were not counted. Hardly seems like a fair election and Amazon's underhanded and disgusting tactics are further proof that they are legitimately scared of what will happen if workers band together and demand decent conditions.

    24 votes
    1. stu2b50
      Link Parent
      That probably would've been their strat if the vote was close, but given how the Union is being slaughtered in the vote percentage it seems that Amazon is going to have a large enough margin that...

      That probably would've been their strat if the vote was close, but given how the Union is being slaughtered in the vote percentage it seems that Amazon is going to have a large enough margin that even if all the contested votes were for the union, it wouldn't matter.

      17 votes
  2. [10]
    Icarus
    Link
    Pretty disappointing. I grew up in an area that is similar to Alabama socioeconomically-wise. My dad was a boilermaker and part of their union, and he would tell me about the discrepancies in pay,...

    Pretty disappointing. I grew up in an area that is similar to Alabama socioeconomically-wise. My dad was a boilermaker and part of their union, and he would tell me about the discrepancies in pay, benefits, and working conditions between union and non-union work. At a job where he would be making $30+ an hour with health insurance and a pension, the same job would have non-union workers making <$20 an hour with little benefits. Same job, same work, different pay and benefits. Unions are so demonized in these areas that despite the objectively better life you could have by joining a union, these people would parrot back the corporate talking points against unions. It is an astounding level of cognitive dissonance to hold such views as a blue-collar worker.

    Maybe an effort like this would be more successful in a more liberal area?

    24 votes
    1. [3]
      streblo
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      So full disclosure I grew up in comparatively liberal Canada so my experience living in these areas is non-existent. I think a lot of times the "we know what's best for you" attitude, no matter...

      So full disclosure I grew up in comparatively liberal Canada so my experience living in these areas is non-existent.

      It is an astounding level of cognitive dissonance to hold such views as a blue-collar worker.

      I think a lot of times the "we know what's best for you" attitude, no matter how true we might believe it to be just comes across as very patronizing to people which then factors into their decision-making.

      The best thing you can do is try your best to educate people, let them make their choice and then respect their decision.

      Edit: Not really trying to pick on you specifically, it's just seems like a very common refrain in progressive circles.

      13 votes
      1. [2]
        Icarus
        Link Parent
        Definitely, and I agree. I am just speaking off-the-cuff here though from a perspective of 15+ years of seeing these types of things play out. If I were speaking directly to these people, I would...

        I think a lot of times the "we know what's best for you" attitude, no matter how true we might believe it to be just comes across as very patronizing to people which then factors into their decision-making.

        Definitely, and I agree. I am just speaking off-the-cuff here though from a perspective of 15+ years of seeing these types of things play out. If I were speaking directly to these people, I would take a much different communications approach. These are just my observations given as a pseudo-anonymous nobody on a small internet forum.

        Also, as someone who works within the scope of HR, I often see firsthand the efforts that go on behind the scene to quash union efforts. I have a very strong opinion that employers should not even be allowed to talk about unions except within the scope of negotiating a contract. When we allow corporations to frame the union sentiment from the outset of employment through onboarding videos or in the case of Amazon, "captive audience" meetings, it isn't so simple to educate people because the playing field is already imbalanced.

        11 votes
        1. streblo
          Link Parent
          Yea I have no problem with people venting, and on a website this small it doesn't really matter. But you see the same sorts of comments on Reddit like people are having a conversation with their...

          Yea I have no problem with people venting, and on a website this small it doesn't really matter. But you see the same sorts of comments on Reddit like people are having a conversation with their group of like-minded friends not realizing the world is reading their comments. These sentiments do bubble up into larger narratives and as people continue to filter themselves in the real world their perspective of political opponents increasingly comes from online spaces.

          When we allow corporations to frame the union sentiment from the outset of employment through onboarding videos or in the case of Amazon, "captive audience" meetings, it isn't so simple to educate people because the playing field is already imbalanced.

          Agree with you there.

          6 votes
    2. [3]
      stu2b50
      Link Parent
      It's possible, although I would note that Bessemer is an area that voted 55-45 for Biden in the recent election. It's a blue pocket in a very red state - although "Democrat" is a pretty big...

      Maybe an effort like this would be more successful in a more liberal area?

      It's possible, although I would note that Bessemer is an area that voted 55-45 for Biden in the recent election. It's a blue pocket in a very red state - although "Democrat" is a pretty big umbrella at this point, and spans a very wide spectrum of "liberalness", so that's not necessarily an indicator.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        NoblePath
        Link Parent
        Probably not knowable, but it would be interesting to know the political vote breakdown of the employees.

        Probably not knowable, but it would be interesting to know the political vote breakdown of the employees.

        1 vote
        1. stu2b50
          Link Parent
          I would imagine mostly Democrat, probably in the 55-60% range or so. The reason I estimate it slightly higher than the voting record is that we do know that the Bessemer Amazon Warehouse has a...

          I would imagine mostly Democrat, probably in the 55-60% range or so. The reason I estimate it slightly higher than the voting record is that we do know that the Bessemer Amazon Warehouse has a very high percentage of African American workers, and that while the news cycle was focused on the slight shift in the Black vote to Trump, the wholistic picture is that Black Americans overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.

          2 votes
    3. [3]
      chrysanth
      Link Parent
      Don't forget the considerable resources Amazon put into their anti-union campaign. It's easy to individualize the problem and blame it on workers for not voting in their own interests, but Amazon...

      Don't forget the considerable resources Amazon put into their anti-union campaign. It's easy to individualize the problem and blame it on workers for not voting in their own interests, but Amazon is a powerful machine and it did everything it could to sow doubt and convince workers the union would hurt them.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        Good_Apollo
        Link Parent
        People vote against their own interest all the time. I found this news hardly shocking at all. I’ve seen people vote against expansion of the very government programs they rely on. Look at Brexit...

        People vote against their own interest all the time. I found this news hardly shocking at all.

        I’ve seen people vote against expansion of the very government programs they rely on.

        Look at Brexit too, people cut off their nose to spite their face world-wide.

        8 votes
        1. chrysanth
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          In many of these cases, the same dynamics I mention are at play. Brexit serves my point well. Some of the wealthiest people in Britain spent a lot of money to get people to vote Leave and millions...

          In many of these cases, the same dynamics I mention are at play. Brexit serves my point well. Some of the wealthiest people in Britain spent a lot of money to get people to vote Leave and millions of pounds were invested to do so. The people themselves are not the problem, the problem lies with the expensive (and very effective) political campaigns that spread doubt and uncertainty. I feel we aren't telling the full story when we leave out that bit.

          I don't think we're necessarily in disagreement here about the facts (people do indeed vote against their own interests), I just want to make it very clear that I am not blaming people for voting against their own interests, nor should we. I think it's counterproductive. Making that mistake puts all the responsibility for social change on the most vulnerable people and creates conflict where there could be mutual recognition and understanding.

          8 votes
  3. [3]
    Flashynuff
    Link
    I think it's important to note that the initial bargaining unit RWDSU was trying to get was around ~1500 workers, and Amazon managed to increase that bargaining unit to over 5000. My understanding...

    I think it's important to note that the initial bargaining unit RWDSU was trying to get was around ~1500 workers, and Amazon managed to increase that bargaining unit to over 5000. My understanding is that brought a lot more uncertainity to the campaign.

    RWDSU is also suing Amazon for unfair and illegal labor practices during the campaign, such as installing illegal ballot boxes on company property, mandatory lectures telling employees unions are bad, changing the timing on traffic lights outside their property to stop organizers from talking to employees, and a whole lot more.

    To me it looks like the union lost this battle but it does not mean the fight is over.

    12 votes
    1. [2]
      stu2b50
      Link Parent
      I think it's pretty unlikely any of that results in anything. The mandatory lectures is, unfortunately, legal, as per the article The most legitimate complaint seems to be the USPS dropbox, but I...

      I think it's pretty unlikely any of that results in anything. The mandatory lectures is, unfortunately, legal, as per the article

      These tactics are generally legal under US labor law, which significantly advantages employers. While Amazon enjoyed unfettered access to employees at the fulfillment center, organizers weren’t allowed inside and instead had to campaign in the parking lot, canvassing employees as they left.

      The most legitimate complaint seems to be the USPS dropbox, but I don't think it's anywhere near enough for a court to do something as drastic as order a revote.

      One possible tactic the union could contest is Amazon’s push to have a mailbox installed at the warehouse site. Documents obtained by the union through a records request revealed Amazon urged the U.S. Postal Service to install the dropbox as the voting process began. The NLRB had previously struck down Amazon’s request to host in-person voting at the warehouse, saying that in addition to presenting a COVID-19 risk, it would create the impression the company had a role in the election. Amazon has said the mailbox was intended to make voting easier, but the union says it had the potential to intimidate workers and that its instructions to have workers submit their ballots to it constituted improper ballot harvesting.

      It seems pretty unlikely that an additional USPS dropbox would cause a 20% shift over 3500+ votes.

      6 votes
      1. vord
        Link Parent
        It's illegal to punish people for trying to join a union. It's legal to say how bad unions are with undertones of "we'll fire you if we catcha whiff of unionization while we have plausible...

        It's illegal to punish people for trying to join a union.

        It's legal to say how bad unions are with undertones of "we'll fire you if we catcha whiff of unionization while we have plausible deniability."

        I very much despise "we abide the letter of the law, but not the spirit."

        7 votes
  4. [8]
    teaearlgraycold
    Link
    I’m surprised an Amazon competitor hasn’t tried to fund unionization. If someone threw a few million dollars at this I can see it happening quickly.

    I’m surprised an Amazon competitor hasn’t tried to fund unionization. If someone threw a few million dollars at this I can see it happening quickly.

    4 votes
    1. spctrvl
      Link Parent
      Unfortunately for the rest of us, capitalists know a thing or two about class solidarity.

      Unfortunately for the rest of us, capitalists know a thing or two about class solidarity.

      21 votes
    2. [6]
      mat
      Link Parent
      Is there a competitor to Amazon? That sounds like a facetious question but I genuinely can't think of one. Although I am not very familiar with the America retail landscape.

      Is there a competitor to Amazon?

      That sounds like a facetious question but I genuinely can't think of one. Although I am not very familiar with the America retail landscape.

      10 votes
      1. stu2b50
        Link Parent
        I think Walmart is the main one. They've really upped their online game, and have implemented something similar to Amazon Prime (Walmart Plus). I'm not going to hold my breath for Walmart to fund...

        I think Walmart is the main one. They've really upped their online game, and have implemented something similar to Amazon Prime (Walmart Plus).

        I'm not going to hold my breath for Walmart to fund union efforts anywhere, though.

        7 votes
      2. streblo
        Link Parent
        Wal-mart and Target? Which somewhat answers the question as they are just as determined to avoid unionization. I guess a company like Ali Express could do it but at that point it's a messy...

        Wal-mart and Target?

        Which somewhat answers the question as they are just as determined to avoid unionization.

        I guess a company like Ali Express could do it but at that point it's a messy geopolitical operation.

        4 votes
      3. [3]
        teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        Amazon is such a large company that they have a ton of competitors. If Google were to try it then they don’t have any exploited US warehouse employees of their own. So there’s no simple tit for...

        Amazon is such a large company that they have a ton of competitors. If Google were to try it then they don’t have any exploited US warehouse employees of their own. So there’s no simple tit for tat retaliation.

        1. mat
          Link Parent
          But there's no single company to compete directly with Amazon as a whole. There are online bookshops, online auction houses, online general stores, compute, hosting and digital storage providers,...

          But there's no single company to compete directly with Amazon as a whole. There are online bookshops, online auction houses, online general stores, compute, hosting and digital storage providers, logistics and warehousing companies, storefront provisioning and delivery firms and many more - but they're all small companies compared to Amazon.

          It's not like how Ford could go up against GM, or AMD against Intel or similar. There's no single competitor who does what Amazon does, that might have the clout to make a difference to Amazon's operations. If lots of companies got together maybe, but that seems unlikely and possibly illegal in some countries.

          8 votes
        2. streblo
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Why would Google open themselves up to the blow back of kicking off a corporate war just to increase Amazon prices in a sector they don't even compete with them in? It's not like unionized...

          Why would Google open themselves up to the blow back of kicking off a corporate war just to increase Amazon prices in a sector they don't even compete with them in? It's not like unionized warehouse employees are going to decrease Amazon's margins in AWS or their smart home offerings -- the two principle axes on which these companies meaningfully compete.

          2 votes