The Teamsters, one of America’s largest labor unions, voted in favor of launching a national effort to unionize Amazon workers at a virtual convention Thursday.
The national effort, laid out in a resolution, will involve creating and funding a dedicated Amazon division to help workers in its logistics business, including warehouse workers and delivery drivers, to organize and demand better working conditions.
The “Special Resolution: Building Worker Power at Amazon,” passed with 1,562 “yes” votes and nine “no” votes, according to the Teamsters’ spokesperson Kara Deniz.
“Amazon presents a massive threat to working-class communities and good jobs in the logistics industry,” Randy Korgan, the Teamsters National Director for Amazon, said. “Amazon workers face dehumanizing, unsafe and low-pay jobs, with high turnover and no voice at work.”
He added “Amazon workers are calling for safer and better working conditions and with today’s resolution we are activating the full force of our union to support them.”
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Labor experts said that landslide vote shows a united front from different factions within the Teamsters.
At the heart of the Teamsters’ membership are employees from logistics and transportation businesses, who have the most to lose from Amazon’s market power, said professor John Logan, director of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University.
“This is the Teamsters’ core industry,” said Logan, who attended the virtual convention and witnessed the vote. “Amazon represents an existential threat to Teamsters members and everything they have built up over decades in terms of wages and benefits.”
He said the Teamsters’ national approach to organizing, rather than trying to organize individual warehouses, is likely to give workers more leverage.
“But it’s still Amazon,” he said. “There is a recognition that this is a bigger fight than simply one union is able to take on.”
The national push by the Teamsters follows an unsuccessful drive to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union this year.
Since then, Logan said, there has been an increase in coordination among various unions in the United States attempting to organize at Amazon. These include the Teamsters, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and the Service Employees International Union.