The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents over one million workers in North America in industries such as package delivery and freight, will vote on whether to make organizing Amazon workers a priority and help them earn a union contract.
“Amazon is changing the way we work in our country and affecting many of Teamster’s core industries and employers,” says the resolution that will be voted on at the Teamsters Convention on Thursday. The company “poses an existential threat to the standards we have set in these industries,” it says.
The resolution states that the union will “provide all the necessary resources” and eventually set up an Amazon division to organize workers in the company.
The timing of such a split or how much money or manpower the union will spend on the effort is not specified, and a union spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on these details. Last year, the union had sales of more than $ 200 million, according to the Department of Labor.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
In an opinion column this month for Salon, Randy Korgan, a Teamters official from southern California who has served as Amazon’s national director since creating the position last year, wrote that the union would bypass the National Labor Relations Board’s traditional job choices.
Instead, Mr Korgan wrote, the union will focus on building support from both Amazon employees and other warehouse and delivery workers as well as community members, and aims to help the company through orchestrating strikes, boycotts, protests and the like bring other actions to the negotiating table.
Amazon defeated a conventional campaign that year organized by a retail union in a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. In response, a number of union leaders suggested that a switch to the strategies Mr Korgan highlighted might be more fruitful. These union leaders pointed out that the federal labor law gives employers great advantages in campaigning – for example, it allows companies to hold mandatory anti-union meetings – and that the government cannot pay fines to employers who violate the law. (The retail workers union questions the election results at the Bessemer warehouse and accuses Amazon of intimidating the workers.)
However, support for this approach is far from unanimous within the labor movement.
In a post-election interview in Alabama, Stuart Appelbaum, chairman of the retail union that oversaw the campaign, said trying to win union elections in Amazon warehouses should remain a focus. “If you want to build real power, you have to do it with a majority of the workers,” said Appelbaum at the time.
The Teamsters union holds its congress every five years and uses it to set the priorities that the union will pursue until the next congress. The resolution states that the Amazon campaign has gained momentum since the last trade union convention in 2016.
During that time, it said, various Teamster departments “have followed the growth, presence, and impact of Amazon on the Teamster industries and spoken to thousands of employees to develop various theories of operations to best serve Amazon employees engage and support ”.