Amazon faces Teamsters union drive at nine Canadian sites


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Teamsters say they can help employees receive better pay and benefits, such as a leave of absence.

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Teamsters union has launched a campaign to mobilize employees at at least nine Canadian facilities of US e-commerce company, according to Reuters interviews with union officials.

The influential union took the first steps earlier this week to organize employees at one of Amazon’s Canadian facilities, and interviews suggest it’s scaling up such efforts across the country, where the e-commerce company almost employs 25,000 workers and plans to add 15,000 more.


The campaign can be seen by Teamsters as a bet that the early success of unionizing employees in a more labor-friendly market such as Canada will inspire similar results south of the border, where Amazon has so far pushed unionization efforts. has stopped.

In the latest challenge to Amazon’s anti-union stance, Teamsters Local Union 362 of Edmonton, Alberta, filed for a vote on union representation late Monday at a company fulfillment center in nearby Niscu.

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Interviews with Teamsters units in other cities and provinces reveal that union efforts extend from the Pacific Coast Province of British Columbia to the Canadian Economic Zone in southern Ontario.

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The Edmonton unit of the Teamsters says it has enough signed cards to ask a union to meet the 40% threshold for a vote requirement. Two union units in Ontario and one in Alberta have confirmed they are signing membership cards with Amazon employees.

Two of the five units confirmed to Reuters that they are holding the event also said they are running campaigns across multiple sites, bringing the total of Amazon’s facilities involved in some level of the event to at least nine.

“Any locals who have Amazon facilities in their area are doing an organizing campaign,” Jim Keeley, an organizer for Teamsters Local 879 near Hamilton, Ontario, told Reuters.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier in the week Amazon Canada spokesman Dave Bauer said in an emailed statement: “As a company, we do not think unions are the best answer for our employees.”

He said unions would prevent the company from changing too quickly to meet the needs of employees and represent “the voice of a select few”.

Teamsters say they can help employees receive better pay and benefits, such as a leave of absence.

Unionization votes in Canada have no direct impact on the United States, but they can boost enthusiasm, said John Logan, a labor professor at San Francisco State University.

“Organizing at a place like Amazon requires workers to take a certain amount of risk,” Logan said. “If they can look at other places and see that that risk has paid off for other workers, they are far more willing to do it themselves.”

Union members are trying hard to connect with Amazon employees, sleeping in their cars, holding employees after cemetery shifts, and building relationships in local churches.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has more than a million members in the United States and Canada, has made it a top priority, calling Amazon an “existence threat.”

Amazon does not have any federated facilities in North America. Teamsters is one of a handful of unions trying to do the tough job of organizing the online retailer’s huge, high-churn workforce.

Earlier this year, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) lost a vote to organize Amazon employees in Bessemer, Alabama, by a two-to-one margin. Amazon fought hard against unionization, and the result is being disputed.

Teamsters has indicated that they will not seek to hold such votes in the United States anytime soon, arguing that the process is unfairly geared toward employers.

But in Canada, where labor laws are more favorable, teamsters see an opportunity to go straight to the ballot.

The organization is handing out leaflets on facilities across the country.

“You just want to see who bites,” Teamsters Kylie said. “You throw your lines in the water and see which fish bite first.”

Kylie said her chapter is campaigning at Amazon facilities in Milton, Cambridge and Kitchener, all traditionally working-class cities west of Toronto, Canada’s most populous city.

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“Where we see that there is a lot of support, we are absolutely going to move forward,” said Teamsters Canada spokesman Christopher Monet.

Jason Sweet, president of Teamsters Local 419 in Ontario, said his unit has begun signing cards with workers across a large area of ​​Toronto and forming WhatsApp groups with Amazon employees to keep them informed of the union’s efforts. Can be done, updates can be given every 48 hours. “We’re trying to build a relationship from the inside out,” he said.

In British Columbia, Teamsters Local 31 president Stan Hennessy said potential members are very interested.

“It is our hope that we can help these workers,” he said. “They could definitely use some help.”

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