Wednesday, November 30, 2022
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“Dialogue without unions is effective at the moment, but the need for collective solidarity is likely to be felt with the 2023 recession”

LUnionization is a long-term struggle. It is not only the CGT activists who marched in sparse ranks in the streets of Paris on Monday 17 October to think so. Christian Smalls largely shares this view. Fired by Amazon in 2020 for sparking a protest movement among employees about the sanitary conditions amid the wave of Covid-19, this former rapper with an offbeat look founded in 2021 the union for Amazon workers (Amazon Labor Union).

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Chris Smalls, the man who planted the first union at Amazon

Since then, he has tried to impose the organization on the second largest employer in the United States. This October 18, he recorded another defeat. By 406 votes to 206, two-thirds of the employees at the Albany (New York State) site rejected the creation of a union at their company. However, after a resounding success in April at the large sorting center in Staten Island, in the same state, with its 8,000 employees, he could believe that history was on his side. But the following three consultations ended in failure. The employees do not want unions.

Not surprisingly, American bosses are overwhelmingly hostile to unions. And especially in the middle of high technology and the west coast, yet traditionally favorable to democratic politics. The managers of Apple, Amazon or Starbucks fight step by step, sometimes with threats, against initiatives aimed at establishing representative institutions in their stores or factories, able to conduct negotiations on wages and working conditions.

“direct relationship”

Such groups are perceived by companies as harmful intermediaries. “We are pleased that our Albany team has chosen to maintain its direct relationship with Amazon”, the group’s leadership welcomed after the vote. It had also spared no expense in dissuading its employees from choosing the trade union route. And for now, it is clear that this direct relationship is effective.

Also read: Creation of another union in an Amazon warehouse in New York fails

Minimum wages at the world’s leading e-commerce company continue to rise, now reaching $19 (19 euros) an hour, well above legal minimums. It must be said that the lack of labor forces the company to take care of its employees. According to an internal investigation revealed by the daily The echoes, in 2021 only one in three Amazon employees stayed with the company for more than three months. The company therefore has a good game today to highlight the effectiveness of its “house” social dialogue, without these obstacles to work in circles that are the trade unions.

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