Amazon unionization: US success inspires Canadians

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The recent success in Staten Island is a stroke of luck for us.explains Teamsters Local 362 Lodge Secretary-Treasurer Bernie Harggarty. People are more aware.

He says, however, that the decision to restart the unionization process at the warehouse called YEG1 by Amazon was made several months ago.

It is importantsays for his part the associate professor of labor relations at UQAM Michel Grant.

He sees parallels between the vote held in New York and the fight to unionize the Walmart store in Jonquière, Quebec, in the mid-2000s. It had become the first of the chain in North America to unionize. It was closed by the company in 2005.

« They decided to close shop rather than continue because they knew what kind of ripple effect it could have. »

a quote from Michel Grant, associate professor of labor relations at UQAM

The Teamsters plan to launch similar campaigns at other Amazon warehouses in Canada, but the Edmonton-area warehouse is the only one where a formal process is currently underway.

However, the game is far from won in New York, where Amazon is challenging the result of the vote accusing supporters of creating an intimidation union, which the lawyer representing them refutes.

A box with the Amazon logo lying on the floor of an empty warehouse

Amazon has 14 warehouses in Canada.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Francois Joly

In Nisku, the first attempt at unionization had ended after the Teamsters withdrew the application for certification.

Employee turnover is very high at Amazon.

According to Bernie Harggarty, more than two weeks had elapsed between filing the application with the Alberta Labor Relations Board, which had not yet given the go-ahead to vote for unionization. The Teamsters feared that they no longer had enough votes.

I think we are ahead of our previous attempt and the reception is positive.he says.

Via email, Amazon spokesman Paul Flaningan responded: Our employees have always had the option of joining a union or not, and in this particular case, the Alberta Labor Relations Board determined that there was not enough interest to hold a vote.

difficult working conditions

Amazon has often been accused of promoting productivity at the expense of security of your employees.

[Ces processus de production et ces technologies] they are so standardized and not designed with humans in mindsays assistant professor of occupational health and safety Sean Tucker of the University of Regina.

Amazon employees are often encouraged to process dozens or even hundreds of packages per hour.

Our bodies are not made for this kind of repetitive work.adds Sean Tucker, who points out that similar criticism has been directed at companies such as Tesla or the meat processor Cargill.

: \”Ce sont des produits jetables.\””,”text”:”[La culture d’entreprise d’Amazon] ne peut pas être compatible avec le mouvement syndical parce que le mouvement syndical va essayer de faire en sorte que l’entreprise investisse dans ses travailleurs et ses travailleuses au lieu de dire: \”Ce sont des produits jetables.\””}}”>[La culture d’entreprise d’Amazon] it cannot be compatible with the labor movement because the labor movement will try to get the company to invest in its workers instead of saying: “these are disposable products”For his part, the former president of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (CSN) Louis Roy believes.

Louis Roy interviewed in his office by videoconference.

According to Louis Roy, former president of the Confederation of National Unions, labor shortages make the Amazonian model less viable.

Photo: Radio-Canada

However, he believes this mentality is becoming less viable due to a lack of manpower.

However, Teamsters representative Bernie Harggarty admits that Amazon is a colossal opponent.

« It is quite a beast. The size and resources of this organization are impressive. »

a quote from Bernie Harggarty, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 362

Unlike the Staten Island warehouse, the organizational drive at Nisku comes from the outside, making it difficult to get the job done, adds Bernie Harggarty.

The Teamsters must have 40% of the warehouse workers sign membership cards before they can apply for certification with the Labor Relations Board. These cards are valid for 90 days after signing.

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