back to article If at first Amazon doesn't let you succeed, try, try again: Warehouse workers given second chance at union vote

America's labor watchdog has given workers at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, another crack at voting for unionization after their first attempt failed earlier this year. “It is ordered that the election that commenced on February 8 is set aside, and a new election shall be conducted,” Lisa Henderson, regional …

  1. KBeee Silver badge
    Happy

    2nd time lucky

    After seeing what tricks employers are allowed to do against unionisation on Last Week Tonight a few weeks ago, I hope it goes better for the workers this time!

    1. Snowy Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: 2nd time lucky

      Was just thinking of that same show but it does puzzles me that a comic covers these stories better than the main stream press does.

      1. Kabukiwookie

        Re: 2nd time lucky

        You mean the main stream press like the Washington Post?

        Gee... three guesses why billionaire owned media would not report on such news...

        Clinton made it possible to consolidate media companies into just a few, this is the result.

        Btw he also cut all the 'red tape' regulating the financial industry in the US. Directly resulting in the 2008 crash.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 2nd time lucky

          ... I think you meant Reagan, in the 1980's, as a root cause.

  2. Phones Sheridan Bronze badge

    " A mailbox... in front of the warehouse... inside a tent... under the gaze of surveillance cameras...."

    I'm half expecting that sentence to end "with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard.”

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Sounds almost as bad as the North Korean elections, where you are permitted to vote 'No' to the only candidate, but you have to sign your name on the ballot and go into a special booth where the 'no' ballot box is kept... then have your picture taken.

      And after the election.... then your family gets a ride downhill on the North Korean social scale.... too far down ends you up in a labour camp, although some of the labour camps are rumoured to have better working conditions than the average Amazon warehouse

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amazon can get in the bin

    Appalling company

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another vote

    So a second time around, this time with "More Union Involvement" in the election process. How could the Union expect to win whilst Amazon was controlling the ball? Great, I can't wait for my Prime membership cost to increase.

    1. ArrZarr

      Re: Another vote

      While I have no doubt that Amazon will pass any increase on cost on to the customers, having the prime membership means a certain amount of complicity in the practices of the company.

      I've got one too so am just as complicit as yourself, but if it needs raising so the staff have basic levels of comfort, then it should never have been so cheap in the first place.

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Another vote

        Or, alternatively, Amazon reduce their profit margin.

        1. ArrZarr

          Re: Another vote

          Yeah, like that'll ever happen.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another vote

        "but if it needs raising so the staff have basic levels of comfort"

        I take it you've never been to Alabama. There are literally thousands and thousands of companies there who hire workers, many with better pay and benefits than what Amazon apparently offers. If the Amazon jobs are such shit, the workers could and should vote with their feet and go work for another company. Eventually Amazon would have to increase their compensation standard to compete in that employment market, not because a union bludgeoned them into compliance. Or they could exit the market and move their warehousing to a location better suited to what they offer.

        Besides which, the Deep South is generally known for being staunchly anti-union, and the unions themselves are seen as a blight from the Northern States. Most of the Southern States are "Right to work" States, which supports that.

        1. msobkow Silver badge

          Re: Another vote

          Blame the workers! Protect the oligarchs! Circle the wagons! Man the buckets - they've got torches!

        2. ArrZarr

          Re: Another vote

          Okay, but does that make the working conditions in that whole area right?

  5. Fred Dibnah

    Internet bazaar

    Internet tat bazaar, Shirley?

  6. heyrick Silver badge

    What I don't get...

    Given this story, and no doubt the British press will soon start with the yearly "how horrible it is to work for Amazon" stories, is that if everybody knows it's so bad, why go and work there? They aren't the only employer, and some jobs that might seem awful can be quite rewarding.

    I was a care assistant in nursing homes for a while, and yeah you gotta be solid with poop and puke and everybody pees (cough, including some of the staff! /cough) but you also get to deal with a whole bunch of excitable grannies that may well be better than your own. Plus it's easy to look at an old person and not realise that they may well have smoked a joint while rocking out to Hendrix. They were young too, once.

    So, yeah, there are other places and other options.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What I don't get...

      That argument only works if there is full employment. As long as there is more than one person applying for jobs, then the unsuccessful ones will have to lower their sights.

      While nothing like the same situation, I spent a while unemployed after redundancy. After a while, when the far from generous benefits are ending, and your savings are dwindling you steadily lower your expectations - eventually taking a job at a level of pay you'd not have considered while you were still in employment. I'm no longer in that job ...

      But that's the situation many employers take advantage of. As long as there are people with a need to put a roof over their family's head, and food on the table, there'll be people who'll work for s**t pay & conditions. They'll tend to move on as soon as they can find something, anything, not so s&&t - but as long as you can keep the onboarding costs (admin & training) low enough you can be quids in vs paying a rate (and conditions) that will make people stay. Absent any controls (e.g. minimum wage laws in the UK), then employers in any free market will seek to depress wages as much as they can.

  7. msobkow Silver badge

    It's companies precisely like Amazon and Wal-Mart that make unions still necessary in this day and age.

    The big corps are truly heartless and their greed knows no bounds. Benefits? Heck no, we keep everybody part time so they don't qualify. Living wage? Are you kidding - how would we pay for another yacht if we did that? Enough hours to survive? See benefits and the lack thereof.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Living wage?"

      Eh, how much "living" should a burger-flipper or forklift-driver expect to do with their meager skill set? We aren't talking DBAs or mechanical engineers or airline pilots, we're talking people who may have decided they didn't even need a high-school diploma and bring nothing more to the job than a warm, breathing body. How much should we expect them to be paid so they can do this "living" you speak of? And considering they'll likely be gone from that job to follow their internal crazy-compass within a week to 6 months, how much should the company invest in them to keep them there? You act as if these are the bright, shiny future of our society, when they are actually the dregs. I work in manufacturing, I see these folks come and go on a regular basis. Drugged, drunk, addicted to whatever, late a couple of times a week, calling in sick every other week, and hopefully paying their parole officer a weekly visit. It's sad as hell, but that's the life they lead, and no amount of "living wage" can pull them out of their pit. So please forgive me if I consider your post a bit utopian and not reality-based.

      1. msobkow Silver badge

        You're missing the point: they're people. They have every bit as much basic human right to live with dignity as anyone else. They should not be punished by society for having had the misfortune of lacking more advanced skillsets. The job needs to be done; they do it. There should be dignity in that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Nobody is stopping them from living with dignity. Well, nobody except themselves. And saying a low-skilled worker isn't worth much to the company is not "punishment", that's just reality. If the job doesn't pay what the worker thinks is enough, fine, gain some skills, improve his game and go somewhere else. That's responsibility. But don't expect us consumers to back your campaign to increase costs in order to subsidize the poor life choices these people continue to make. That just teaches irresponsibility.

          1. msobkow Silver badge

            How I despise the "blame the victim" mentality of those who haven't been FORCED to take a minimum wage job to survive because they couldn't FIND anything else. Do you have any idea how many people with degrees are flipping burgers in this economy because they can't find a job in their field?

            No wonder you posted AC. Your "opinions" thus far are just bait for arguments.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              What a load of rubbish. Sure, I've HAD to take a minimum wage job in a tight spot, but it was never intended to be my "career", nor did I ever expect the job and employer to conform to my financial needs. They said they'd give me $3.35/hr to weigh and move heavy stuff from point A to point B, and I said "Sure". Back-breaking work for 6 months, but it kept the lights on, and it gave me a great incentive to improve myself and get a better job. At no point did I ever think "Man, I've got no dignity at this low paying job, people look down on me because I'm on the lowest rung in this company. I need to demand more money, or maybe join a union so I can live the high life." No, I was mostly just grateful that the wife and I could eat and had gas in the car until we could get to a better place. And that's what we did. It's not "blaming the victim" to say that the key to a better life is to better yourself instead of expecting others to better your surroundings.

  8. david 12

    Amazon has very high staff turnover in most of their warehouses. Most of the workers are casuals, and are gone in 6 months.

    One of the reasons they continue to get new workers is that it's easy to get a job there.

    It's possible that the USA will eventually run out of new casual workers who have never worked at Amazon, but unlikely. There are more who leave school every year.

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