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Latest News - December 2013

December 17, 2013
Amazon Warehouse Workers Plan Union Vote
Source: Wall Street Journal
By: Greg Bensinger

The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled a union-representation vote on Jan. 15 for 30 mechanics and technicians at an Amazon warehouse in Middletown, Del. The workers will choose whether to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
John Carr, a spokesman for the Machinists, said at least 30% of the 30 workers had indicated they favored filing a petition with the NLRB, though he declined to give a precise figure. The 1.2-million-square-foot Delaware warehouse, with 1,500 employees, opened last year and handles smaller iterms such as DVDs.

“Some employees came to us and said they wanted some help,” Carr said.
The union move comes as Amazon faces a backlash from employees in Germany, where union members have held a series of strikes over conditions at several facilities there. Amazon has successfully battled prior union efforts in the U.S., including groups of customer-service representatives.

Amazon has been on a frenzy of warehouse building to speed delivery to customers. With the addition of new workers, generally several hundred per facility, unions may see an opportunity to gain a toehold.

Amazon has been buffeted in recent months by stories describing conditions in warehouses as physically and mentally challenging, including a documentary by the BBC.

“We respect the individual rights of our associates and have an open-door policy that allows and encourages associates to bring their comments, questions and concerns directly to their management teams,” said an Amazon spokeswoman in an emailed statement. “We firmly believe this direct connection is the most effective way to understand and respond to the needs of our workforce and do not believe there is a need for third-party representation.”
She said Amazon had retained Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, a Philadelphia-based law firm, to help combat the unionization effort.

An NLRB spokesman said he had no immediate comment.

News of the unionization effort was reported earlier by Bloomberg Businessweek.



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