Teamsters Organizing Workers Unions at 9 Amazon.com Facilities Across Canada, Retail News, ET Retail
The influential union took the first step earlier this week to organize workers at one of Amazon’s Canadian facilities, and interviews reveal it is expanding its efforts across the country, where the e-commerce company employs around 25,000 workers and plans to add 15,000 more.
The campaigns could be seen as a bet by the Teamsters that the early success of unionizing employees in a more labor-friendly market like Canada will inspire similar results south of the border, where Amazon has so far. now repulsed attempts to organize.
In the latest challenge to Amazon’s anti-union stance in Edmonton, Alberta Teamsters Local 362 cast a vote on union representation Monday night at a corporate distribution center in nearby Nisku.
Interviews with Teamsters units in other cities and provinces show that the union’s efforts span from the Pacific Coast Province of British Columbia to the Canadian economic heartland in southern Ontario.
The Edmonton Teamsters unit says it has enough signed cards calling for a union to meet the 40% threshold to demand a vote. Two of the union’s units in Ontario and one in Alberta have confirmed that they are signing membership cards with Amazon workers.
And two of the five units that confirmed to Reuters they were organizing said they were running campaigns across multiple sites, bringing the total number of Amazon installations involved in some level of organizing to at least nine. .
“Everyone who has an Amazon facility in their area is doing a recruiting drive,” Jim Killey, an organizer with Teamsters Local 879 near Hamilton, Ont.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier this week, Amazon Canada spokesperson Dave Bauer said in an emailed statement: âAs a business, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees.
The unions would prevent the company from changing quickly to meet the needs of employees and would represent “the voice of the privileged few,” he added.
The Teamsters say they can help workers get better wages and benefits, such as time off.
SLEEP IN THEIR CARS
The organizing votes in Canada have no direct bearing on the United States, but they could generate excitement, said John Logan, professor of labor law at San Francisco State University.
âOrganizing in a place like Amazon forces workers to take some risk,â Logan said. “If they can look the other way and see that this risk has paid off for other workers, then they’re much more likely to do it themselves.”
Union members go to great lengths to connect with Amazon workers, sleeping in their cars to grab workers after shifts at the cemetery and forging bonds in local churches.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has more than one million members in the United States and Canada, has made Amazon’s organization a top priority, describing it as an “existential threat.”
Amazon does not have unionized facilities in North America. The Teamsters are one of a handful of unions attempting to take on the arduous task of organizing their large, churning workforce.
Earlier this year, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union (RWDSU) lost a vote to organize workers in Bessemer, Alabama, by a margin of more than two to one. Amazon has pushed hard against unionization, and the result is disputed.
The Teamsters have indicated they will not be looking to hold such votes in the United States anytime soon, arguing the process is unfairly biased towards employers.
But in Canada, where labor laws are more favorable, the Teamsters see it as an opportunity to go directly to the polls.
The Teamsters Killey said his chapter was campaigning at Amazon’s facilities in Milton, Cambridge and Kitchener, all traditionally working-class towns just west of Toronto, Canada’s most populous city.
“Where we see there is a lot of support, we are going to go full steam ahead,” said Christopher Monette, spokesperson for Teamsters Canada.
Jason Sweet, president of Teamsters Local 419 in Ontario, said his unit has started signing cards with workers in the greater Toronto area and has formed WhatsApp groups with Amazon workers to keep them in touch. keeping abreast of union efforts, providing updates approximately every 48 hours. “We are trying to build relationships from within,” he said.
In British Columbia, Teamsters Local 31 president Stan Hennessy said potential members were receptive.
“We hope we can help these workers,” he said. “They can definitely need help.”