Teamsters aims to step up efforts to unionise Amazon workers

NEW YORK (AP) — The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a union that represents 1.4 million workers, is setting its sights on Amazon.

Yesterday, it voted on whether to make organising Amazon workers its main priority. The Teamsters accuse the nation’s second-largest private employer of exploiting employees by paying them low wages, pushing them to work at fast speeds and offering no  job security.

“There is no clearer example of how America is failing the working class than Amazon,” said the resolution that will be voted on by representatives from 500 Teamsters local unions.

The resolution is expected to be approved and would allow the Teamsters to “fully fund and support” efforts to unionise Amazon workers and create a division to aid them and “protect the standards in our industries from the existential threat that is Amazon”.

It declined to say how much money it will spend on the efforts.

Any attempt to unionise Amazon is likely to be an uphill battle. None has been successful in the company’s 26-year history, including the most recent one at an Alabama warehouse where workers overwhelmingly voted against joining a union.

But the Teamsters said it will try a different strategy. Randy Korgan, the Teamsters’ National Director for Amazon, wrote in Salon earlier this month that unionising one facility at a time doesn’t work because companies like Amazon have the money and legal resources to squash those efforts from the inside. Instead, Korgan wrote that organising Amazon workers will take “shop-floor militancy”, such as strikes in warehouses and in city streets.

Amazon didn’t respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

An Amazon delivery van departs an Amazon Warehouse in Massachusetts. PHOTO: AP