Amazon faces Teamsters union action in the Canadian warehouse

People hold a banner at the Amazon facility as members of a congressional delegation arrive to show their support for workers who will vote on union formation in Bessemer, Alabama, March 5, 2021.

Dustin Chambers | Reuters

Amazon warehouse workers in Alberta, Canada have signed up for a union election, a major union announced on Tuesday, marking the recent escalation in tensions between the retail giant and its employees.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters filed a vote on union representation at an Amazon warehouse in Nisku, Alberta known as YEG1 late Monday through a local chapter with the Alberta Labor Relations Board. The employment agency must first approve the election, after which all YEG1 workers employed as of September 13th can vote on whether to join the Teamsters Local Union 362. A Teamsters Canada spokesman said the warehouse employs between 600 and 800 workers.

“Amazon will not change without a union,” said Francois Laporte, national president of Teamsters Canada, in a statement. “Be it in terms of job security, the pace of work, discrimination, favoritism or wages, the company has proven itself to be deeply anti-worker.”

Dave Bauer, head of communications for Amazon’s Canadian operations team, told CNBC in a statement that the company respects workers’ rights to join or not join a union, but that unions do not believe that unions are the “best answer for our employees ” are.

“Every day we empower people to find ways to improve their jobs, and when they do, we want to make those changes quickly,” said Bauer. “This type of continuous improvement is more difficult, quick and agile with unions in the middle.

“The benefits of direct relationships between managers and employees cannot be overstated – these relationships make it possible to hear the voice of every employee, not just the voices of a select few,” added Bauer.

The union offensive is the latest attempt to organize Amazon workers, a target for many years among unions in the US and abroad.

In April, workers at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama warehouse, voted overwhelmingly against union formation, with less than 30% of the vote in favor of joining the retail, wholesale and department store union. The union questioned the election results, claiming Amazon had illegally interfered in the process, and the National Labor Relations Board is expected to make a final decision in the coming weeks.

Even after the loss in Alabama, unions continued their efforts to organize Amazon workers. The Teamsters passed a resolution in June to fund and provide resources for Amazon workers who wish to unionize.

According to Teamsters Local Union 362, YEG1 workers have raised concerns about discrimination and wages. Although Amazon recently hiked hourly wages to $ 17-21.65, workers say the raise coincided with the cancellation of a monthly performance bonus, “meaning many Amazon employees doubt that the new raise would actually make more money on theirs Paychecks will lead. ”Said the group.

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