April 17, 2021

Amazon Workers’ Union Drive Reaches Far Beyond Alabama

Amazon did ask county officials in mid-December to change the light’s timing, though there is no evidence in the county records that the change was made to thwart the union. “Traffic for Amazon is backing up around shift change,” the public records stated as the reason the county altered the light.

Amazon regularly navigates traffic concerns around its facilities, and wasting unpaid time in congested parking lots is a frequent gripe of Amazon workers in Facebook groups.

But the retail workers’ union president, Stuart Appelbaum, questioned the timing of the request in Bessemer, coming as it did at the height of the organizing. “When the light was red, we could answer questions and have a brief conversation with workers,” he said.

Last week, the union questioned an offer the company made to the Alabama warehouse workers to pay them at least $1,000 if they quit by late March.

“They are trying to remove the most likely union supporters from their work force by bribing them to leave and give up their vote,” Mr. Appelbaum said.

But “The Offer,” as it’s known among employees, was the same that Amazon made to workers at all of its warehouses around the country. It is an annual program that lets the company reduce its head count after the peak holiday shopping season without layoffs. It has been in place since at least 2014, when Jeff Bezos wrote about it in a shareholder letter.

“Once a year, we offer to pay our associates to quit,” Mr. Bezos said at the time.

Mr. Appelbaum was not swayed. He said he believed that Amazon had chosen to make the offer across all of its warehouses when it did in order to help eliminate possible “yes” votes in Bessemer.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/02/business/amazon-union-bessemer-alabama.html

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