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If a union cannot win at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, what next is organized labor in America?


After decades of declining union membership, labor organizers and their supporters hope to reverse course, in a small but meaningful way, at Amazon.
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warehouse in Bessemer, Ala.

On Friday, when the vote on whether to merge appeared to have declined – although the process was not completely over yet – some observers wondered: If a merger attempt is very public, okay Such close surveillance of failure, what does that mean for the future of unions and organized labor?

Some say it means workers and their unions need to rewrite rules against them, while others say the results show that unions need to be serious. rethink what they offer to their members.

What the vote “really does shed light on is how severe the imbalance in labor law is,” said Rebecca Kolins Givan, an associate professor at the Rutgers School of Management and Industrial Relations. “It doesn’t specifically tell us whether these workers want a say in the workplace. It tells us that employers can freely bomb workers with messages of anxiety and uncertainty. “

For more than half a century, “The balance of the labor law is in the employ of employers and it’s getting worse over the years,” Givan said.

Trade union dynamics had the highest record in many years

The consolidation effort at Amazon has been appreciated from the very beginning.

chairman joe Biden, never afraid of their pro-union stance, workers insist that they vote on what they think is right, not what their employer thinks. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said he was worker assistance too.

Several Democratic lawmakers went to the execution center to show their support. Also famous people, including actor Danny Glover and rapper Killer Mike.

Amazon keeps the voting process with the news cycle fearless Twitter
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spit.

And the vote that happened a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, underscored the need for workplace safety across all types of jobs, from meat packer and retail workers come teacher and warehouse workers.

On Friday, the union drive appears to have failed. Of the 5,876 warehouse qualified voters, 738 voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Alliance (RWDSU) and 1,798 voted against this opinion. 76 votes were casted and 505 votes were rejected, according to the report National Labor Relations Department.

To be clear, the voting process is not over yet. RWDSU said it would challenge the outcome, accuse Amazon of misrepresenting the vote and using pressure tactics such as forcing employees to attend lectures “filled with wrongs and lies. “About consolidation.

“Dozens of outsiders and union vassers” walked the floor while workers received text messages from the company about the vote and a voting box in the warehouse premises put workers in mind. unjustly score, to speak RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum.

Amazon said it is not trying to intimidate anyone. “Our employees are the heart and soul of Amazon, and we always work hard to listen to them, gain their feedback, continually improve and invest heavily to provide salaries and great benefit in a safe and inclusive workplace, ”it says to speak. “We’re not perfect, but we’re proud of our team and what we have to offer, and will continue to work to get better every day.”

Who knows best what an employee wants?

Rachel Greszler, a research fellow at the Far Right Heritage Foundation, says the apparent failure of union dynamics is another sign that workers aren’t buying what unions are selling.

Although workers want more flexibility and advancement without considering factors such as seniority, unions are still introduced into “old ways of leading to rigid wages,” she said. and the work is not more flexible ”.

Last year, 10.8% of salaried employees were members, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the short term, this is a slight increase of 0.5% y-o-y – but the agency notes the numbers are skewed as major job bleeding of all workers by 2020 has That is, there are fewer workers outside the union than there are union workers.

In the long term, It says membership rate of 10.8% decreased from 20.1% in 1983, the first year for which comparative data is available.

The decline in collective bargaining resulted in a loss of $ 1.56 per hour worked by the average worker, according to his Institute of Economic Policy, which is equivalent to $ 3,250. yells for a full-time, year-round worker. “It has also contributed to widening the wage gap, as unions provide disproportionate benefits to those on low wages,” EPI said.

Michael Strain, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, said this was just a vote, but it went beyond symbolism. “I think the fact that labor is not only lost, but also impressively lost and so decisively, will blow the wind away from the sails of organized labor to some extent.”

Did Amazon clarify its views on workers and even put pressure on? Yes, Strain said. But workers must weigh the prospects of their potential wages, benefits and working conditions with “the likelihood that they will no longer have a job,” he said. “I think their current jobs are attractive enough that they don’t want to mess with a good thing.”

Have not written an obituary for organized labor

Celine McNicholas, director of government affairs at EPI, said: “Whenever a trade union momentum is closely followed, it doesn’t work,“ It is almost always framed as the death of tuberculosis. organized movement ”.

That’s not the case, she said.

To be sure, McNicholas admits, a worker deciding whether to merge or not will make his own choice of what to do. However, she added, “did they base it on fair, accurate, honest information” or was it the “false information” provided by the employer?

Like Givan, Rutgers professor McNicholas said that the vote indicated the need to change the system. That is why she is supportive PROFESSION. The bill, which passed the US House of Representatives controlled by Democrats last month, would, among other things, penalize companies for violating workers’ rights.

It was a much-needed start to avoid the consequences now, says McNicholas. Right now, if a company is found to have wrongly fired a worker for labor-related issues, that company “may have to pay back the money. That’s it.”

‘A kind of nut that is quite difficult to break’

Glenn Spencer, senior vice president, employment policy at the US Chamber of Commerce, said conflicting opinions about the future of organized labor based on just one vote are difficult to read. elected.

Alabama has a low union rate (from 5% to 9.9%, According to the Pew Research Center) and Amazon offered the minimum wage of $ 15 – a call that echoed in many recent collaborative dynamics. “This is going to be a pretty tough nut to break,” he said.

Spencer and the Chamber had no view in the Bessemer vote, or whether or not workers should consolidate under other circumstances. However, the business team is against the PRO Act. “We think that is harmful to workers. We think that is bad for the recruiters. We think that’s bad for the economy, ”Spencer told MarketWatch.

According to the Bessemer vote and the PRO Act, Spencer said, “I don’t think this gives you proof that you need to rewrite the entire labor law system.”

Givan said it remains to be seen where and where consolidation efforts will come this year and beyond. But even without a formal union push, that doesn’t mean workers will be silent. She notes that there are still tactics such as walks to broadcast employee requests.

The same day, the National Industrial Relations Commission announced the Bessemer, Google vote
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workers sent one letter years after a mass walk, the requirements to prevent sexual harassment have not been met, said top management.

Amazon shares closed Friday at $ 3,372.20, up 3.54% from the same period last year. Dow Jones industrial average
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increased by more than 10% during that period and the S&P 500
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increased by nearly 12%.



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