Teamsters Union Targets Amazon Facilities Across Canada

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Following unionisation effort in Edmonton, Alberta Teamsters Union reportedly expands organisation drive to at least nine Amazon locations across Canada

In influential labour union is reportedly broadening its efforts to organise staff at Amazon in at least nine locations across Canada.

Teamsters Union officials told Reuters they are hoping that success in Canada, where labour laws are relatively union-friendly, could lead to successes in the United States.

The unionisation drive comes as Amazon seeks to hire some 15,000 staff in Canada, where it already employs about 25,000, amidst a Covid-fuelled surge in e-commerce.

The company is also on a hiring spree in the US, where it is the country’s second-biggest employer, with about 750,000 staff.

Image credit: Amazon
Image credit: Amazon

Unionisation drive

The Teamsters Local Union 362 in Edmonton, Alberta last week began the initial steps in attempting to organise an Amazon warehouse in nearby Nisku.

The local said it has more than the 40 percent threshold of signed membership cards to require a unionisation vote.

Two other local units in Ontario and one in Alberta told Reuters they are also signing membership cards with Amazon workers.

The agency said at least one Teamsters local in British Columbia is also on an organising drive.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said last week it does not believe unions are “the best answer for our employees”.

Unions would make it more difficult to attain “continuous improvement” by supplanting the “direct relationships between managers and employees” while representing “the voices of a select few”, the company said at the time.

Benefits

The Teamsters said organisation could help with better wages and benefits such as leaves of absence.

Amazon argues it already provides high standards of pay and other benefits.

A tight labour market has recently led it to raise its basic hourly wages, although Teamsters Local Union 362 said the raise coincided with the removal of a monthly performance bonus.

In the US Amazon has begun offering other incentives as well, such as fully paid college tuition and vocational training.

Amazon has no unionised facilities in the US and in April fought off an effort by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) to organise a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.

The vote, which the RWDSU lost by a more than two-to-one margin, is being disputed and the National Labour Relations Board is expected to issue a final decision in the coming weeks.

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