Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, planned to hold the corporation’s first union vote in the United States beginning Feb. 8. Amazon does not employ any union labor in the country and the approximately 5,800 fulfillment center employees are facing stiff opposition from the tech giant in their effort to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
The workers complain of brutal productivity quotas that leave them barely enough time to use the restroom. They are also demanding more say in employee discipline and termination decisions.
Amazon has responded by sending anti-union text messages to employees multiple times a day, holding mandatory anti-union meetings and even papering employee restrooms with anti-union messaging.
The vote will run for seven weeks. If the warehouse workers in Alabama vote to unionize, it would force Amazon to the bargaining table for the first time and potentially set off a wave of unionization efforts throughout the company, which has a global workforce of more than 1.2 million.
“Amazon workers all over the country will see there is a path to have a voice on the job,” said Rebecca Givan, a labor studies professor at Rutgers University. “Collective action is contagious.”
-NPR, Jan. 29, The Washington Post, Feb. 2