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Why Amazon Unionization Matters

Date: March 19, 2021

Currently, almost 6,000 workers at an Amazon Warehouse near Birmingham, Alabama are voting on whether they want to form a union. We support their efforts because the safety and job protections that Union representation brings will lift up all union workers. 

A unionized workforce helps halt the race to the bottom and helps create a society where one job is enough.

Amazon has successfully beaten back previous efforts at unionization in their facilities. However, the pandemic’s focus on essential workers is partially driving this particular unionization effort. The pandemic made clear the critical role essential workers played in serving customers and the economy broadly. Amazon experienced extraordinary growth last year, as people turned to online shopping in an attempt to stay safe from COVID. Initially, amazon provided extra pay to workers during the pandemic but stopped that practice even though their record profits had not stopped. The workers who started the union organizing say now that their pay is not commensurate with the risks they take and the productivity they must maintain. They want a union to help them get a larger piece of Amazon’s ever-increasing profits and more flexible work rules. Most important, they are hoping to vote in a union to make their jobs safer.

Amazon, of course, says it does not believe the union represents the views of a majority of its workers and that it would disrupt the direct relationship the company has with employees.

Our Union helps us every day secure the kind of support we need daily in our work lives. AFA negotiates safety protections, job protections, schedule flexibility, benefits, pay protections – all of the details that our Contract provides. Even during the terrible downturn of COVID, we could not simply be let go. Our contract protected us from any capricious action and REQUIRED management to follow negotiated language, and while we offered an alternative with the IVFMP last year, that was our choice to agree to, not theirs to impose.

If Amazon is allowed to dictate to its workers with impunity it will only increase the downward spiral to the bottom that has been happening worldwide.  A union will help them unify and amplify each workers’ voice to lift the standard for, not only everyone at Amazon, but workers everywhere. This matters, because when any of us sets the bar higher, we all benefit from those gains and can continue to build upon them.  Many of us probably use Amazon at one time or another and so are connected to these workers and they should be supported in their advocacy for fair pay and safe working conditions.

Let us stand in solidarity with the workers at Amazon in their efforts to be included in negotiating a Contract. Let’s never, never take for granted the status we have earned because AFA has secured us a seat at the organizing table for many years now.

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