Amazon shareholders support union formation

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More than 70 Amazon investors are backing warehouse workers who want to form a trade union in the US. The e-commerce giant is trying to thwart these plans, but investors stood up against Amazon.

 

Against its own principles

In a letter, more than 70 Amazon shareholders ask the company to stop its anti-union campaign. The investors, who account for around 20 billion dollars of the capital, say they support employees who want to form a union. That is reported by the Financial Times.

 

The company must remain neutral, according to the investors, who subtly point out that Amazon would otherwise be going against its own "Global Human Rights Principles". According to these principles, which got published by Amazon itself, the company should respect the right of employees to join a union and to set one up "without the fear of reprisals, intimidation or harassment".

 

First trade union in the US

Yet, in practice, it seems to be different at the moment, as nearly 6,000 workers at a warehouse in Alabama are trying to unionise. A postal vote is in progress on whether the warehouse workers want representation from the national Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union (RWDSU).

 

Because Amazon fears this could set a dangerous precedent, the retailer is trying to prevent the formation of a union. After all, it would be the first time that company employees in the American home market had union representation. In Europe, however, trade unions are active within Amazon.

 

Unnecessary and expensive

A website specially set up by Amazon, doitwithoutdues.com, is already trying to convince warehouse workers that joining a union is very expensive (up to 500 dollars, is said) and unnecessary. According to the website, once you are unionised, you can no longer be as helpful and social with one another.

 

The employer defends that this information is not deterring but informing: "We have provided information that helps employees understand the facts when they join a union. If the union vote goes ahead, it will affect everyone on the site, and employees must understand what it means for them and their daily work at Amazon."

 

Amazon also reportedly tried to delay the vote and demanded that workers vote in person, in a polling booth. However, the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) rejected those requests. All parties eagerly await the outcome of the vote.