Amazon's union-busting drives exposed in NYT report

Daniel Cooper
·Senior Editor
·2 min read
VELIZY-VILLACOUBLAY, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 20: The logo of Amazon is seen on the facade of its warehouse on November 20, 2020 in Velizy-Villacoublay near Paris, France. General Manager of Amazon France, Frédéric Duval, announced the postponement of Black Friday from November 27 to December 4. "Today, like other large French distributors and taking into account the recommendation of the French Government, we have decided to postpone Black Friday if this allows businesses to reopen before December 1 and therefore this year, Black Friday will take place on December 4. " Amazon France confirmed in a statement. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

Amazon’s labor practices, which recently earned the company a subtle rebuke from President Biden, is likely to face even greater scrutiny now. The New York Times is reporting on the tactics the company allegedly employed to block a union drive in Virginia. As the company faces one of its biggest organizing votes, the paper uncovered details of a settlement made with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in 2016.

As part of the deal, Amazon had to publish a list of things it wouldn’t do to stifle the drive, but did not admit to any violation of labor laws. The list includes pledges not to engage in employee surveillance, threaten would-be union workers with reprisals or dismiss those interested in joining. The Times, however, quotes the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, who believe those practices were used.

Amazon is currently reckoning with a drive to unionize warehouse employees at Bessemer, Alabama, and if successful, could mark a watershed moment for the mega-retailer. Ahead of the vote, the company was found to be airing anti-union ads through its game-streaming service, Twitch. When Twitch was alerted to the news, it pulled the ads, saying that they should “never have been allowed to run on our service,” since it bans all political advertising.

The company also stands accused of asking county officials to shorten the waiting times at a nearby stoplight. The Times says that the move was designed to make it harder for canvassers to approach employees as they left for work.

As well as the union drive, Amazon is also facing questions about the safety procedures it used to keep its warehouses open through the COVID-19 pandemic. Last summer, employees at the company’s Staten Island warehouse sued the company for failing to follow CDC and New York State safety guidelines. Similarly, Canadian authorities ordered Amazon’s Brampton facility to close after a mass outbreak of COVID-19 in the warehouse.

You can read the full story over at The New York Times.