Amazon workers move to join first union

Amazon workers will vote for the first official unionisation at the company in the US from next month, as the company continues to resist the attempt.

A branch of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union at the Amazon fulfilment centre in Bessemer, Alabama would potentially cover up to 6,000 workers, if they vote for it.

Workers will vote by mail in February and March on whether to form the branch, confirmed the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Ballots will be mailed to eligible workers on 8 February and must be received by the NLRB’s regional office by 29 March.

Although Amazon has largely avoided organised unions at its US businesses, there are some organised business units in Europe.

In 2014, a small group of US technicians at an Amazon Delaware warehouse voted against joining the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

During the pandemic, some Amazon workers have protested at what they see as a lack of COVID safety at some of Amazon's warehouses, with Amazon admitting that thousands of its workers have been infected by COVID.

Amazon is against the latest union move and has set up a website to campaign against it.

The website criticises union dues and an Amazon spokeswoman says it was created to “help employees understand the facts of joining a union”.

She added: “If the union vote passes it will impact everyone at the site and it’s important associates [Amazon workers] understand what that means for them and their day-to-day life working at Amazon.”

Earlier this month, 225 Google employees in the US announced they had created the Alphabet Workers Union, and that they would now recruit new members throughout the company.

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