Amazon Defeats Labor Union

amazon worker in warehouse
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Despite celebrity and presidential endorsements, workers at an Alabama Amazon warehouse overwhelmingly voted against unionization.

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The company avoided the possibility of its first unionized warehouse, after years of successfully fighting off labor organizing, NPR reports. The final tally showed 1,798 against unionizing with 738 in favor.

The resounding victory for Amazon comes after weeks of local campaigning by the retail giant, which highlighted the company’s strengths and questioned the union’s benefits. Workers seemed to have more confidence in the ability of Amazon to provide benefits such as a $15 minimum wage (double the national average), in addition to health and retirement benefits, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Amazon’s campaign efforts against unionization were no doubt aided by a tremendous year in growth. Amazon’s revenue soared 38% in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

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The WSJ adds that workers were concerned about the costs of union dues and had not been persuaded that the union would be able to significantly add more value than Amazon already does.

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Despite the loss, the vote has been one of the most consequential events in the labor movement in recent history. Amazon has grown into the second-largest private employer in the United States with more than 800,000 employees. Union leaders said the vote alone prompted hundreds of new inquiries from other Amazon workers across the country, NPR reports.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, Amazon demonstrated several tactics to influence the vote. AP News said in March that Amazon had been hanging anti-union signs throughout the Alabama warehouse, including inside bathroom stalls, and holding mandatory meetings to convince workers why the union is a bad idea. AP also reported Amazon had created a website for employees that told them they would have to pay $500 a month in union dues, taking away from money that could go towards their families. 

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This was in addition to controversy the company faced last year when it fired an employee who staged a walkout at a New York warehouse for demanding better coronavirus protection protocols in the workplace.

“Officials at the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union argued that Amazon’s unfair tactics were to blame in an election where only just over half of eligible workers cast ballots,” Reuters reports.

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The defeat comes at a time where union membership accounts for only 6.3% of the private sector workforce, down considerably from over 20% in the 1984, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 

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