Teamsters to vote Thursday on sweeping push to unionize Amazon staff

One of the largest unions in the US will vote on Thursday on a comprehensive plan to organize Amazon warehouse workers and drivers.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is gathering for its annual convention this week and will vote on a resolution aimed at making helping Amazon workers and them achieve a union contract a key priority.

As part of an initiative called “The Amazon Project,” the Teamsters plan to create a special Amazon department within their ranks that will fund and assist workers in organizing, according to a copy of the resolution previously reported by Vice. The resolution is expected.

Amazon declined to comment. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently admitted that the company needs to improve its people.

The vote comes just months after a failed attempt to unionize one of Amazon’s Alabama warehouses. In April, workers at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, voted overwhelmingly against union formation, with less than 30% of the vote in favor of joining the retail, wholesale and department store union.

Amazon has long been a target for major unions, with the Teamsters, United Food & Commercial Workers Union, and RWDSU quietly meeting with warehouse and delivery workers. The coronavirus pandemic, the explosion of protests against Black Lives Matter last summer, and mounting concerns about job security have further fueled interest in organizing Amazon warehouses.

Unions from Amazon would be an uphill battle. The company has managed to fend off large unions since it was founded in 1994. Unions have organized part of Amazon’s European workforce, but no US entity has successfully unionized or joined.

Amazon has come under repeated criticism for its working conditions, including its injury rates and productivity requirements. Delivery drivers have also raised concerns about the requirements of the job.

“The International Brotherhood of Teamsters recognizes that there is no clearer example of America failing the working class than Amazon,” read a copy of the resolution received from CNBC. “From its beginnings as a bookseller, Amazon has grown into an e-commerce giant that has turned industry upside down and displaced hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

Additional organizing efforts have sprung up across the country since the Bessemer vote. RWDSU previously said that more than 1,000 workers contacted the union to organize their own workplaces. The workers have also set up grassroots advocacy groups like Amazonians United Chicagoland.

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