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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign Labor actions

Amazon Cheated on Union Vote, NLRB Hearing Officer Recommends Do-Over

6109481ae4b0552883e5928e.pdf (huffingtonpost.com)

Excerpt:

“On April 9, 2021, a tally of ballots issued in a mail ballot election that had commenced on February 8, 2021. That tally reflected that a majority of employees who had cast ballots in the election voted against representation by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (Petitioner or Union). However, the Petitioner contests the results of the election claiming that Amazon.Com Services, LLC (Employer or Amazon) engaged in objectionable conduct. As a
result of this objectionable conduct, Petitioner asks that the election be set aside and that a new election be directed. Specifically, the Petitioner contends that the Employer interfered with the …conditions necessary to conduct a fair election by causing a mailbox to be installed on
its premises, by polling employees, by threatening employees, by hiring additional police, and by interfering with the Union’s access to voters by causing the county to alter the timing of certain traffic lights.
After conducting the hearing and carefully reviewing the evidence and the arguments made by the parties, I recommend that Petitioner’s objections be sustained in part because the evidence demonstrates that the Employer’s conduct interfered with the laboratory conditions
necessary to conduct a fair election.”

With Amazon Accused of Cheating, NLRB Official Says Workers Should Get Another Union Vote | Common Dreams News

Excerpt:

An official at the National Labor Relations Board on Monday formally recommended tossing out the results of a closely watched union election at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, potentially giving workers there a chance to hold another vote as the e-commerce giant faces accusations of unlawful misconduct.

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign Labor actions

How Amazon Exploited a Weakened America

https://blackagendareport.com/how-amazon-exploited-weakened-america

Excerpt:

Amazon will not stop squeezing every drop from workers until those workers have more power.

“The book is less an examination of the company than an examination of America through its lens.”

Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America
Alec MacGillis
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9780374159276

During the Covid-19 pandemic, one in four Americans has struggled to pay their bills, and as of mid-January, unemployment claims surpassed those of the Great Recession for the forty-third straight week. As of February, more than 24 million people reported that their households sometimes didn’t have enough to eat. Many lower-income Americans continued to report for in-person jobs without proper protective equipment in dangerously crowded environments like meatpacking plants, warehouses, and hospitals.

For those who could work from home, it became “our patriotic duty” to buy online, wrote ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis in a November New York Times op-ed. Flattening the curve put the nail in the coffin of in-person retail, which had already endured record closures in 2019. Amazon, meanwhile, hired 250,000 people, taking the total to over a million employees globally. Most of those jobs sucked: They were largely in warehouse and delivery, which have become notoriously brutal jobs at Amazon both physically and mentally (but we’ll get to that). Nine months into 2020, and six months into the pandemic, Amazon had already surpassed its 2019 earnings.

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign Labor actions

Bezos’ s Wasteful Space Race Proves: Tax Amazon on Earth

Last week, we saw billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos engage in a massively wasteful ‘space race’ while the entire Western United States suffered from a record-breaking heat wave. Then, after landing, Jeff Bezos had the audacity to thank Amazon workers for paying for his public mid-life crisis.

Back on Earth, the rest of us are paying for billionaire greed too as record temperatures threaten human life and infrastructure in a climate crisis driven by the top 100 companies in the world. Renters have nowhere to go as the eviction moratorium is about to end, and the median price of a house in California has risen by $300,000.

Lack of housing, climate destruction, and poor working conditions all have the same cause: the hoarding and exploitation committed by the billionaire class.

To fight against Bezos, Amazon, and Big Business, we’ll need a mass movement committed to fighting first-hand for what we need. Will you commit to joining our volunteer campaign to tax Amazon in Burbank?

Take a stand!

Raise $100 million from tax on companies with the largest square footageBefore they do that, we need to show public support for the terms as passed by the Action Conference:The TAB campaign has officially sent our resolutions from the last Action Conference to the Burbank City Council. Once they add it to the agenda, they’ll debate on whether or not to craft a law that meets our terms. The council will likely attempt to water down the resolutions in an attempt to cater to Big Business in Burbank!

Fund rent and utilities relief due to COVID

Build social housing by union labor with living wages

Fund public schools

Fund a Green New Deal in Burbank

And more!

When the council schedules the discussion of the Burbank Amazon Tax, we need Burbankers to show up online to speak up in support! Are you willing to show City Council that Burbank needs a strong tax on Amazon and Big Business?

Stay tuned, and add “Tax Amazon Burbank” to your address book so you won’t miss any updates. We’re heading into a crucial part of the campaign, and it’s going to take all of us to beat Bezos.

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign Labor actions

Primed for Pain: Workplace Injuries at Amazon

Primed for Pain: – Strategic Organizing Center (thesoc.org)

Excerpt:

Amazon’s Epidemic of Workplace Injuries

As the largest e-commerce retailer in the US, Amazon took advantage of the massive shift to online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic and saw its US sales increase 39 percent during 2020. The company’s size and influence has expanded at an extraordinary pace. In the ten years between 2010 and 2020, Amazon’s workforce grew from 33,700 to nearly 1.3 million and its annual net income increased from $1.1 billion to $21.3 billion.

The company’s obsession with speed has come at a huge cost for Amazon’s workforce. For more than a decade, Amazon has made headlines for dangerous health and safety conditions in its facilities. In 2019, multiple groups of researchers and journalists analyzed standardized records of worker injuries maintained at Amazon facilities. They found that Amazon’s injury rates were over double the injury rate in the notoriously hazardous general warehousing industry.

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Labor actions

Amazon Gives New Meaning to “Sweat-Shop”

Amazon Warehouse Kept Working Without Working Air Conditioning  (from Payday Report)

At one Amazon warehouse in Kent, Wash., workers were forced to work in heavy heat despite there being no working air conditioning system. The Seattle Times has the story:

Heat precautions were less evident at another of Amazon’s Kent facilities, where interior temperatures neared 90 degrees by midday, a second worker estimated. Not every workstation had functioning fans, that worker said. And some departments were running “power hours,” in which workers are asked to move as quickly as they can for an hour to boost productivity.

“I was sweating immediately,” said the second worker. “I’m really surprised at how ill-prepared they are, given we have known it would be this hot for a little bit now.” Some workers went home early because they couldn’t stand the heat, the worker said.

For more, check out The Seattle Times. 

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Boycott Amazon Campaign Labor actions Surveillance Capitalism

Protesters Challenge Amazon Shareholders to Clean Up the Company’s Act

May 24, 2021 protest of Amazon's human rights, labor and environment violations
May 24, 2021 labor unionists, faith-based groups and civil libertarians protest Amazon’s human rights, labor and environment violations.

Here’s a report from the Athena coalition:

Athena.

On Wednesday, Amazon will hold its annual meeting with investors. There, they will continue to celebrate $21.3 billion in pandemic profiteering, dangerous exploitation of workers, and preying on Black, brown and immigrant communities with ICE deportations, police, pollution, and destruction of small business and climate.

Activist shareholders will introduce resolutions to begin to address Amazon’s business model, and your neighbors are assembling at the doors of its biggest shareholders to say we have #EyesOnAmazon shareholders, and expect them to vote with our communities, not Amazon’s destructive agenda.

Eyes On Amazon
This year, more than any other, Amazon’s role in our democracy and economy is on the agenda at its shareholder meeting. The pandemic and murder of George Floyd forced a reckoning over racism in America. Organizers and activists fought back against Amazon’s expanding partnerships with violent police departments; protested the firing of Black whistleblowers who worked at Amazon warehouses; and fought Amazon’s environmental damage in Black and brown neighborhoods, disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

This year we expand our fight, showing up beyond warehouses, beyond Jeff Bezos’ 25-bathroom mansion and beyond ICE headquarters in front of the doors of Amazon’s billionaire shareholders in our cities.

See you on the streets!

And here’s the full document to the shareholders spelling out Amazon’s egregious violations of labor, environmental and human rights:

Amazon 2021-Proxy-Statement

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Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Labor actions

Bessemer AL Amazon Union Campaign Defeated

RWDSU is Fighting the Outcome over Unfair Labor Practices  by Amazon

https://aflcio.org/press/releases/fair-shot-how-pro-act-wouldve-changed-amazon-organizing-landscape

Heroic Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, came together to claim their right to form a union, but antiquated federal labor law and a virulently anti-union company stood in their way. We all benefit from broad and accessible union membership. Organizing a union should not be a trial by combat. The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act will make it easier for working people to organize if we so choose.

Here’s how the campaign unfolded in Bessemer, Alabama, and how it would be different under the PRO Act.

Before Organizing Started—Firings and Surveillance: 

  • Amazon workers were aware of the company’s anti-union position.
  • Amazon has fired workers for union activity in New York and Virginia, and faced no financial penalties. There are none under current labor law.
  • Amazon’s use of high-tech surveillance of workers’ organizing interests were widely reported. Amazon faced no penalties for this activity.

Under the PRO Act:

  • Workers who were fired would have had access to double damages for lost wages, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) would be required to use the courts to get these workers their jobs back quickly.
  • Amazon would have to inform employees about their rights under the law, like other federally guaranteed rights. 
  • Unions would likely use labor law’s “unfair labor practice charge” system more vigorously because there would be meaningful penalties. 
  • Unions and employees would have the option of going to court to remedy unlawful action. 

When Workers Organized in Alabama: 

  • The Amazon campaign moved rapidly, driven by a groundswell of worker support, because most organizers understand speed is one of the only shields against illegal, but unpunished, employer violations of labor law.
  • Workers met with organizers clandestinely because they were very fearful of losing their jobs.
  • A relatively small number of workers have become the public face of the campaign because the remedies for workers being illegally fired for union activity are ineffective.  Workers being forced to silence themselves made it easier for Amazon to try to paint the union as an outside entity rather than a support for a genuine, new organization of working people.
  • Workers filed a petition to certify their union with the NLRB on Nov. 20, 2020, and immediately Amazon used legal maneuvers to attempt to have the petition thrown out.
  • In order to move forward with an election and accommodate Amazon, the union consented to thousands of seasonal workers, many of whom no longer worked in the facility, being included in the proposed bargaining unit and the representation election.
Bad News for Organized Labor: Vote Count at Amazon Bessemer Warehouse Going Against Union

https://paydayreport.com/amazon-union-being-defeated-2-to-1-w-30-counted-chicago-amazon-workers-wildcat-strike/

Excerpt:

Amazon Threw Out Hundreds of Ballots 

After more than a week of scrutinizing ballots and signatures, Amazon was able to successfully throw out hundreds of ballots, possibly padding its current lead.

“There remain hundreds of challenged ballots mostly by the employer that will need to be addressed after the public count,” the RWDSU said in a statement today. “As the ballot envelopes are opened and the ballots are counted there’s a possibility that more issues could impact the final results.”  (BDS-LA Note: RWDSU is the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store workers Union, which has long had a commitment to organizing the unorganized.)

FOIA: Amazon Pressured Postal Service to Put Postal Box In Front of Amazon Entrance

Whatever may occur in the union vote today, RWDSU has already indicated they plan to challenge the union vote for a variety of illegal intimidation tactics.

New FOIA documents released by The Washington Post show Amazon pressured the U.S. Postal Service to install a mailbox directly in front of the warehouse entrance.

“We have not heard anything back on the install of this collection box,” a postal service account manager wrote to Alabama colleagues on Jan. 14 in an email obtained via FOIA by The Washington Post. “Amazon is reaching out again to me today about the status as they wanted to move quickly on this.”

RWDSU contends that managers would routinely encourage workers to fill out their ballots and cast them directly in front of them.

The union has alleged that this is illegal intimidation and will likely appeal any vote to the National Labor Relations Board.

For more, check out The Washington Post. 

Amazon Workers in Chicago Stage Wildcat Strike 

While the workers at Amazon in Alabama appear headed for defeat, they may have inspired a movement nationwide.

Yesterday, non-union workers at an Amazon warehouse in Chicago staged a walkout to demand better conditions.

The Chicago Sun-Times has the story. 

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COVID Labor actions

920+ Toronto area Amazon Workers Got COVID

More than 900 Amazon workers got COVID-19, data shows — as new modelling warns of growing variant infections across essential workplaces | The Star

The article is behind a paywall. It says public health authorities in Ontario have identified workers with essential jobs as being a key vector for the transmission of new more transmissable variants of SARS-CoV2, and that neighborhoods with high concentrations of essential workers — who, in Canada, as in the US, are disproportionately BIPOC — have much higher rates of the new infections. The picture of an Amazon warehouse above is from the Toronto Star, where no photo credit is given visibly.

The Washington Post covers the consequences for Canada of this Amazon-fueled new surge:

Canada coronavirus: British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec impose restrictions as cases surge – The Washington Post

Across the country, public health officials and infectious-disease experts are reporting that the patients who are hospitalized with more severe illness are younger than during previous surges. The ages of younger people infected varies across the country, but generally they are under age 60.

“As the new variants spread, you will see that covid-19 is killing faster and younger,” Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of a panel of scientists advising Ontario Premier Doug Ford, said Thursday as he unveiled new modeling for the province. “It’s spreading far more quickly than it was before, and we cannot vaccinate quickly enough to break this third wave.”

Categories
Labor actions Surveillance Capitalism

Amazon Automates Firings; 21st Century Sweatshop

Apparently, Amazon is firing people in such massive numbers for failing to meet “productivity” goals, that it has turned the process over to A-I tracking and robots to carry out the dismissals.

How Amazon automatically tracks and fires warehouse workers for ‘productivity’ – The Verge

Excerpt:

Documents obtained by The Verge show those productivity firings are far more common than outsiders realize. In a signed letter last year, an attorney representing Amazon said the company fired “hundreds” of employees at a single facility between August of 2017 and September 2018 for failing to meet productivity quotas. A spokesperson for the company said that, over that time, roughly 300 full-time associates were terminated for inefficiency.

The number represents a substantial portion of the facility’s workers: a spokesperson said the named fulfillment center in Baltimore includes about 2,500 full-time employees today. Assuming a steady rate, that would mean Amazon was firing more than 10 percent of its staff annually, solely for productivity reasons. The numbers are even more staggering in North America as a whole. Amazon operates more than 75 fulfillment centers with more than 125,000 full-time employees, suggesting thousands lose their jobs with the company annually for failing to move packages quickly enough.

The documents also show a deeply automated tracking and termination process. “Amazon’s system tracks the rates of each individual associate’s productivity,” according to the letter, “and automatically generates any warnings or terminations regarding quality or productivity without input from supervisors.” (Amazon says supervisors are able to override the process.)

Critics see the system as a machine that only sees numbers, not people. “One of the things that we hear consistently from workers is that they are treated like robots in effect because they’re monitored and supervised by these automated systems,” Mitchell says. “They’re monitored and supervised by robots.”

Categories
Amazon/Whole Foods Monopoly Power Labor actions

NLRB Considers Consolidating Multiple Unfair Labor Charges vs Amazon

Fired, interrogated, disciplined: Amazon warehouse organizers allege year of retaliation (nbcnews.com)

Excerpts:

“Amazon will work to destroy your character and try to keep you from talking about what’s actually going on,” Bailey said. “And it’s all so that Jeff Bezos can make more dollars.”

Bailey’s complaint is one of at least 37 charges filed to the NLRB against Amazon, America’s second-largest employer, across 20 cities since February 2020, when news of the pandemic began to spread, according to an analysis of NLRB filings by NBC News. These complaints accuse the company of interfering with workers’ rights to organize or form a union. That’s more than triple the number of cases of this kind filed to the agency about Amazon in 2019 and six times the number filed in 2018.

For comparison, Walmart, America’s largest employer, has had eight such charges since February 2020. The meat-processing giant JBS, whose workers have been fighting for better working conditions throughout the pandemic, including staging protests, had nine.

The number of similar charges filed against Amazon over the last year has become significant enough that the NLRB is considering whether the “meritorious allegations warrant a consolidated effort between the regions,” NLRB spokesman Nelson Carrasco said. Typically NLRB charges are investigated by one of 26 regional offices. But in rare instances the board combines cases into a consolidated complaint, as it has done with Walmart and McDonald’s, if it believes there is a pattern emerging at a company.

<snip>

Amazon’s anti-union campaign states that union members would have to pay $500 a year in dues with no guarantee of better pay. Economic research indicates that collective bargaining unions generally raise pay for both union and nonunion members. “Amazon fears the union because of the leverage it can have to organize strikes that could cripple the business,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, a Los Angeles-based investment firm, noting that Amazon’s efficient customer service is critical to the company’s success.

If unions negotiate better pay and benefits, it would increase Amazon’s operating expenses and reduce profit, Pachter added.

Seay [of Amazon] said Amazon hosts “regular information sessions for all employees, which include an opportunity for employees to ask questions.”

Note from BDS-LA: Catch the not-so-veiled threat from the Amazon spokesperson in the next paragraph.

“If the union vote passes,” she added, “it will impact everyone at the site, and it’s important all associates understand what that means for them and their day-to-day life working at Amazon.”

In other press reports, Jeff Bezos was so “pissed” about possible pro-labor, anti-trust legislation from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, that he personally authorized a twitter campaign calling them out.

This is from vox.com’s recode section:

Inside Amazon, rank-and-file employees were also perplexed by the company’s Twitter approach. “Suspicious activity on @amazonnews Twitter account,” was the title of one internal support ticket — called a trouble ticket inside the company — filed by an Amazon security engineer last week, according to a screenshot viewed by Recode.

“Over the past two days, there have been two threads by @amazonnews in response to comments made by US Government officials that have received considerable attention,” the ticket reads. “The tweets in question do not match the usual content posted by this account.”

The security engineer noted that the tweets were posted using Twitter’s web app rather than Sprinklr, the social media management software typically used by the Amazon News account to post tweets.

The tweets, according to the security engineer, “are unnecessarily antagonistic (risking Amazon’s brand) and may be a result of unauthorized access.”

The support ticket was closed without action, according to a source.