One of the U.S. Largest Unions Votes to Make Amazon Priority for Unionization

One of the largest unions in the U.S. voted Thursday to prioritize unionizing Amazon, the Associated Press reported. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which already serves 1.4 million workers, will form a new division and set aside money specifically to support its Amazon efforts.

The union described Amazon's treatment of employees as exploitative, with meager pay, a drive for fast-paced work and a lack of job security. Additionally, the Teamsters said Amazon's rapid and widespread delivery services jeopardize working conditions for employees at other companies that deliver Amazon packages, such as UPS.

"Amazon workers are calling for safer and better working conditions and with today's resolution we are activating the full force of our union to support them," said Randy Korgan, national director for Amazon at the union.

Despite being the second-largest private employer in the U.S., no groups have been successful in organizing the company's workforce. Korgan said in a Salon article that the Teamsters would likely take a different route than their failed predecessors, such as protesting in city streets and coordinating warehouse strikes.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Amazon Union
Amazon tractor-trailers line up outside the Amazon Fulfillment Center in the Staten Island borough of New York. One of the nation’s largest union is aiming to unionize Amazon workers. Representatives from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a union that represents 1.4 million workers, voted on Thursday, June 24, 2021, to make organizing Amazon workers a priority. Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

Amazon fought hard against the union push at a warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. At the time, Amazon said that it paid workers at least $15 an hour and offers them benefits, both things unions want. It hung anti-union signs throughout the warehouse and held mandatory meetings to convince workers why the union is a bad idea, according to one worker who testified at a Senate hearing.

When the votes were counted in April, the majority rejected the union. The organizing there was led by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which represents 100,000 workers at poultry plants and retailers, such as Macy's and H&M.

The Teamsters said it is targeting workers in Amazon's delivery business, workers who drive vans or pack orders in warehouses. Amazon wants to deliver most of its packages itself and rely less on UPS and other carriers. It has opened packaging-sorting hubs at airports, built warehouses closer to shoppers' homes and bought jets to deliver orders faster.

Amazon Warehouse
Employees work at the Amazon logistics centre in Suelzetal near Magdeburg, eastern Germany, on May 12, 2021. Ronny Hartmann/AFP via Getty Images