March 29, 2021 | 5:00 pm
The vote to create a union in the Amazon warehouse in Alabama, which will become the company’s first in the US, ended on Monday, March 29th, more than five months after “David v. Goliath”. Historic by its promoters regardless of opinion polls rule.
Our personal relationships are on the verge of disaster. “We are exhausted, but I’m proud of the team and the Amazon workers who have moved on,” said Joshua Breuer, local president of RWDSU, the distribution consortium that will represent 5,800 employees at Bessemer’s headquarters, should the vote prevail. Creation of the federation.
He added that Amazon’s worst fear occurred when 3,000 employees said they could not work under these conditions.
Results are not expected before the end of the week at least, depending on the number of votes (due to formalities like signatures in the wrong place or the wrong profession, among other things).
As for Burr, who is awaiting legal complications, Amazon will try to delay the matter “by all means possible.”
We need to be treated with respect and equality. This means safer working conditions, job stability and better wages, ”said Jennifer Bates, one of the employees involved in the movement.
Amazon said Monday that the number of RWSDSU affiliates “has been declining for two decades, but that is no reason (…) to distort the facts.”
“Our employees know the truth: income of $ 15 an hour or more, health coverage, and a safe and inclusive workplace. We encourage all of our employees to vote.”
Employees spoke of a different picture. When she was hired, another employee, Lavonda Townsend, was “happy with the salary.” “But that was before I saw how difficult it was. The rest room is far away, and you have to eat like a prisoner, very quickly, to get back on time, because if you are a minute late, it will be like an hour in which you are not paid.”
Amazon and the power it wields over its workers
The e-commerce giant hired many employees in 2020 and nearly doubled its net profit to $ 21 billion thanks to increased demand in times of pandemic.
But the second largest employer in America (800,000 workers) is engaged in a fierce struggle for communication.
Her spokespersons recently attacked lawmakers supporting the union on Twitter. They also denied that employees had to urinate in plastic bottles, because they did not have time or go to the toilet, in contrast to what statements and pictures published by various media outlets showed.
In the warehouse, according to the employees, Amazon sends them text messages, puts up posters and holds meetings about the social benefits it has to offer. It also underscores the high union contributions, which are nearly $ 500 a year, as well as the current wage amount of at least $ 15 an hour, more than twice the minimum.
But Brewer commented, “Other stores in the area pay $ 18 to $ 20 an hour.”
Brewer and many observers, the case is not a lot of money, but the absolute control that they are trying to exercise.
“Like most American employers, Amazon wants to maintain its authority over everything and make sure that workers cannot negotiate anything,” said Rebecca Jeevan, a professor of social relations at Rutgers University.
According to Jeevan, the technology company can earn “almost unlimited expenses” to “show that any attempt to organize is doomed to failure and dissuades other employees.”
However, Amazon also has supporters in Bessemer. His arrival a year ago was called “the largest investment project in the city’s history,” according to the city’s mayor, Kenneth Jolly.
“If all of these negative and horrific stories are true, that means there are 5,800 idiots working in the building.” Don Hugh, Director of Warehouse Quality, said, “I don’t work with any idiot, and I’m not an idiot.”
He stressed that his colleagues do not need representatives to express their views and expressed his pride in losing about 50 kilograms, thanks to the kilometers he walks every day in the warehouse.
Daryl Richardson, the employee who started the movement, said he also lost weight in recent months, but as a result of fatigue and stress.
“My body won’t catch (this rhythm). They ask me why I’m not looking for another job. It’s easier said than done! I’m old and I don’t have a good picture.” Said Richardson, 51.
Brewer said his letter inspired many other workers. “We have received more than 1,000 orders from about fifty different warehouses, most of them from Amazon.”