Despite coming under fire for allegations of poor treatment of employees, Alabama Amazon employees recently voted against forming a union. Amazon started in 1994 as a family owned online bookstore started by Jeff Bezos and his former wife MacKenzie Scott. In 28 years it has transitioned from the simple idea of having a bookstore on the web to being a multinational technology company with its hand in many different market areas across the board. However, even companies that have the best of images on the surface can fall from grace quickly when the skeletons in their closet come to fruition within the public eye, and Amazon has not been an exception to this.
In late 2018, media reports came out about Amazon that did not paint their treatment of their delivery drivers in a good light. The list of alleged abuses ranges anywhere from wages not being paid to having restrictions as to when they could use the bathrooms. These abuses included lack of pay for working overtime, bias shown to some employees over others and drivers being forced to drive dangerously to finish a job, to name a few. Needless to say, these claims place the ethics of Amazon into question, and if these allegations are indeed substantiated and hold up in court hearings, the company will be in serious trouble.
Amazon has had very direct opposition against employees’ efforts to organize trade unions. While the company claims to not be against unions, Amazon representatives have also relayed that it is in the best interest of their customers. A previous effort for unionization in the early 2000s, hundreds of Amazon employees were laid off by the company in retaliation. In addition, to counteract more recent union efforts, Amazon has aired anti-union ads and placed anti-union signs in employee bathrooms.
Such efforts have been defeated time and time again in many similar companies, but employees always continue to keep trying especially when their employers’ ethics are in question. If workers voted to unionize, it would give them traction to advocate for things like higher wages and better working conditions. Making these changes would inevitably cost the corporation money.
In the past few weeks, there was a union vote amongst the Amazon workers at one of the company’s large warehouses in Bessemer, Alabama. It was the result of the most significant organizing drive in the history of the internet, but ultimately failed as the workers voted decidedly against unionization, winning out over a union with a whopping 1,798 votes to 738. This leaves the decision of how to best handle and keep Amazon employees safe up to the company in question itself. Around half of the eligible voters from the warehouse voted, and 500 votes were contested by Amazon and therefore were not counted. This has led some to say that Amazon did not win the fight so much as the employees decided against a union.
Amazon won by campaigning that they do in fact offer good wages for good jobs. However, critics say that the company is simply taking advantage of a broken system that is in dire need of being fixed as soon as possible.