World’s largest online retailer, Amazon, which employs 650,000 persons globally, is witnessing increased attempts by workers trying to unionize. Founded in 1994, the e-commerce giant has seen many such unionization attempts in its 25 years of existence. Employees’ effort, however, hasn’t been successful.
Sales numbers have been through the roof and the company has also doubled its shipping speed. This has prompted the workers to increase their efforts at organizing. Many unions have been in contact with Amazon workers. Three large unions, the Teamsters, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, and, the United Food & Commercial Workers are among the prominent ones engaging with the workers.
Prime Day, Amazon’s annual shopping festival exclusive to Prime members, saw workers from a Minnesota based fulfillment centers going on strike. Though there have been multiple instances of strike in the U.S., this was the first strike during the annual sale event, which went live five years ago. Workers demanded that wages be increased and working conditions improved.
Awood Center, an advocacy group for East African workers was at the helm of the protest. They were backed by the Teamsters and other local labor groups. Amazon dismissed the protest saying it had little participation from the company’s workforce and 15 Amazon workers joining the protest meant that the workforce was satisfied with their workplace.
Amazon spokesperson Rachael Lighty said that the people participating in the today’s event are outsiders and they don’t have knowledge that what is the correct situation of the employees working for our fulfillment centers. Amazon became the benchmark for minimum wage when, in 2018, it raised the per hour rate to $15.
Lighty opined that the company was already offering the workers what the unions were demanding – industry-leading pay and a safe and innovative place to work. Amazon clocked $232 billion in revenue in 2018 and is amongst the top fifty listed firms by market capitalization.