An Amazon fulfillment center. (GeekWire File Photo)
Stuart Applebaum has heard the argument before. That, perversely, a union organizer should quietly root against non-union higher wages or better working conditions because it makes activating workers toward unionization more difficult because they have less to fight for.
But Applebaum, the union boss who is trying to organize Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., doesn’t buy that theory. Which is why he was excited when he saw that California lawmakers have attempted to put into law the same work-rate protections he’s been pushing for workers in the Deep South.
“Look, we want to make workers lives better,” said the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “The legislation is good. But a union contract is better.”
Last week, California lawmakers approved legislation that would give Amazon and other warehouse workers the legal right to push back on work-rate demands, such as those common in Amazon warehouses. If signed into law, the measure would require public reporting on speed quotas — something that has been blamed for Amazon’s unusually high employee attrition rate — as well as public disclosure on how those work-rate algorithms impact employee heath.
An Amazon spokesperson could not be reached for comment regarding the new California warehouse worker protections.
In California, the measure is part of a battery of legislative and legal efforts to reign in Amazon, the country’s second-largest employer with 950,000 workers stateside. From the state’s antitrust work targeting the online giant, to its congressional delegation’s push in Washington, D.C., to blame the company for propelling the anti-vaccination movement, Amazon is finding it hard to make government friends in one of its largest domestic markets.
None of it, however, seems to be slowing the company down much. On Tuesday, Amazon announced that it is hiring an additional 125,000 people throughout …read more