Amazon Agreed To A Deal That Will Help Its Workers In A Big Way

By Charlene Badasie | 3 weeks ago

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Amazon has reached a labor deal with the National Labor Relations Board to allow its employees to freely organize without retaliation. The move comes after the company faced pressure to improve worker rights, as employees in some areas push for unionization. The deal was approved by both parties in late December.

The deal states that Amazon workers, which total 750,000 in the United States, have more room to organize on company property. The online shopping giant said it will not threaten workers with disciplinary action or call the police if they engage in union activity. According to the Wall Street Journal, this also applies to exterior non-work areas during non-work hours.

Amazon said it would reach out to current and past warehouse employees via email to notify them of their new rights. The settlement also allows the National Labor Relations Board to hold the company accountable more quickly if it violates the terms of the agreement, according to the federal agency. Speaking about Amazon’s labor deal NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo said, whether a company has 10 employees or a million employees, it must abide by the National Labor Relations Act.

She added that the settlement provides a crucial commitment from Amazon to millions of its workers across the United States. It also reinforces the company’s pledge not to interfere with their right to act collectively to improve their workplace by forming a union or taking other collective action (via Star Advertiser). “Working people should know that the National Labor Relations Board will vigorously seek to ensure Amazon’s compliance with the settlement and continue to defend the labor rights of all workers,” she told the publication.

amazon labor deal

While Amazon has not officially commented on the labor deal, director of the UCLA Labor Center Kent Wong called the settlement unprecedented and said it represents a huge change in attitude at the Seattle-based company. In the past Amazon has been known to use fierce measures to counteract union activity at its warehouses. “Amazon has been very consistent in holding a strong anti-union position. This opens up new opportunities for unionization there at other companies,” Wong said.

Interestingly, Amazon’s labor deal comes as the company embarks on a hiring spree while facing organizing efforts at warehouses in Alabama and New York. In November, the labor board ordered a new union election for Amazon workers in Alabama, based on objections to April’s initial vote. The decision was a massive blow to Amazon, who spent a year campaigning for the warehouse workers to reject the union which they ultimately did. The campaign was spearheaded by the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.

Meanwhile, the Amazon Labor Union, an independent group representing workers in Staten Island, filed its petition for union elections again. The employees withdrew their first unionization petition in mid-November, after falling behind the adequate number of workers pledging support. Former Amazon employee Christian Smalls is organizing the effort in the New York borough, without the help of a national sponsor.

The unionization drive among Amazon workers is happening during a moment of reckoning across corporate America, reports the New York Times. Thanks to the pandemic and ensuing labor shortages, employees have more leverage to fight for better pay and working conditions. So far, people have embarked on strike action at Kellogg’s and Deere & Co. Moreover, workers at Starbucks in Buffalo, New York recently voted to unionize – a first in the coffee chain’s 50-year history.