From the APL Labor Commission. To join our commissions, visit here.
On November 29th, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered a new vote for the Amazon workers of Bessemer, Alabama after finding that Amazon employed illegal union-busting methods to successfully undermine the union drive. From 2016 to 2017, 41.5% of union drives collapsed under illegal anti-union measures from their employer company. Despite being one of the largest and most high-profile companies to have been exposed in union-busting, Amazon continues to claim that all workers are free to join a union.
A decisive victory was claimed by Amazon in the defeat of the unionization efforts in April, despite the 56.2% (3,264 workers) who did not vote. As soon as April 29th, objections were filed regarding Amazon’s conduct during the elections, such as indications of surveillance of the ballot box, and putting a mailbox in the parking lot of the site after the ballots were being cast elsewhere. Littler Mendelson, one of many anti-union legal firms, is contracted by Amazon to produce copy-and-paste statements and provide legal consultation for discouraging union organizers, is also working for Starbucks where three of its branches in Buffalo, NY are attempting to unionize, and are currently in the voting process.
Retail employees in the United States who have not received hazard pay, the proper protective wear, paid sick leave or adequate benefits are seeing that the practices and pay of multi-billion dollar companies are too appalling to accept. By October, an additional five million service employees had exited the workforce. The reality is that the United States is undergoing an unofficial, unorganized labor boycott. People can see that union workers have a greater collective voice in the workplace, are paid more, cannot be fired at will, and receive qualitative benefits and time off. The workers are pursuing just those interests of their class when they organize and strike and win major concessions in John Deere, Nabisco, and the nurses of Kaiser Permanente, despite significant numbers of those involved not wanting to compromise for too little and hold out even longer. Even after Bessemer, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store union reported over 1,000 employees in Amazon plants nationwide contacted them about union drives at their locations.
The number of workers that have left the workforce altogether and the union members who have favored continuing the strikes for better contracts, indicate an understanding from the working class that the meager concessions to unions are not enough. However, the most exploited workers in the United States must organize, must demand the improvement of their worsening conditions, so that if nothing else, they establish connections with other workers, expose the real character of their employers and become more acutely aware of the class struggle inherent to their lives. The Labor Commission of the American Party of Labor supports the unionization drives in Bessemer and Buffalo, encourages the workers of Amazon and Starbucks to beware any attempts of corporate sabotage and defends the right of all workers to freely associate.