The struggle to unionize Amazon is shifting to Canada, where workers in Alberta could soon be the first to unionize an Amazon warehouse in North America. Workers at the “YEG1” facility in Nisku, Alberta, just outside Edmonton, filed for a union election on Monday, September 13. The election could be held in mere weeks, once the Alberta Labour Relations Board approves the application. Workers at the relatively new facility in Nisku, which employs between 600 to 800 Amazon “associates,” have described rampant favoritism and discrimination against marginalized workers of color and immigrants. Job security, the pace of work and wages are also among Nisku workers’ top concerns, according to Christopher Monette, director of public affairs at Teamsters Canada.
The fast food industry, one of the most ubiquitous low-wage employers in America, has been notoriously immune to unions. For nearly a decade, the Fight For $15 campaign has been successfully working to raise the industry’s wages — but despite its slogan of “$15 and a union,” has not produced any actual unions. Now, an unrelated group of Starbucks employees in Buffalo, New York, are poised to move forward with something that has rarely been seen before: Union elections at individual fast food stores. Starbucks is America’s second largest fast food chain, with more than 15,000 stores nationwide. Their only unionized stores are a small number run by subcontractors in places such as airports.
At 5:45 a.m. Friday, May 21, painters started assembling outside under-reconstruction Madison High School in Northeast Portland, and picked up picket signs instead of paint sprayers. For the first time in over 40 years, members of Painters Local 10 were on strike. On the picket line were the 21 members scheduled to work there that day plus others who came to back them up. Painters District Council 5 field rep Scott Oldham says at first there was fear, not knowing what to expect. But when other union trades started to arrive in twos and threes, the mood shifted. “People from each crew would walk forward and say, ‘Hey, we’re with Local 16, and we respect what you’re doing. We absolutely will not be crossing the line today,” Oldham says. “Next time it could be me,” some workers said.
Union organizations today warned Gov. Pedro Pierluisi and the Financial Oversight and Management Board that they will paralyze the country if the LUMA Energy contract that increases rates, allows the consortium to leave Puerto Rico if a hurricane strikes, and displaces thousands of workers, is not canceled. “We are warning the attorney for the Financial Oversight and Management Board, Pedro Pierluisi, that there will be no peace in Puerto Rico if the contract is not repealed and they listen to the people who demand, not only a public and more efficient Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), but also one free of fossil fuels. “Right now there is a favorable atmosphere for paralyzing the country and if the governor continues to ignore the people, we will do so.
Priti Patel’s refugee camp experiment is finally crumbling. In March, Penally Camp in Pembrokeshire — where hundreds of asylum seekers have been held in squalid conditions since September 2020 — was closed down. The barracks, complete with razor wire-topped fences and human-shaped shooting targets, has been returned to the Ministry of Defence, and will hopefully never be used to accommodate people flee-ing wars again. The closure follows months of pressure on the Home Office by human rights groups, local campaigners, MPs, doctors, and lawyers, who ran a high-profile campaign decrying the barracks’ prison-like conditions. Less well-known, however, is the role played by asylum seekers themselves in resisting their inhumane treatment every step of the way.
Labor organizations are taking up the fight for racial justice in many ways. They’re developing in-depth member education on racial capitalism. They’re using bargaining to address structural racism and developing new leadership.
Google repeatedly violated U.S. labor law when it spied on, probed, and terminated employees engaged in worker organizing in 2019, according to a complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday. In its complaint (pdf), the NLRB alleges that Google was "interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of their rights guaranteed in Section 7" of the National Labor Relations Act. As The Guardian reported Wednesday: The complaint was filed on Wednesday following a year-long investigation launched by terminated employees who filed a petition with the board in 2019, after hundreds of Google employees carried out internal protests and public demonstrations against Google's work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Progressive International has launched a global campaign to #MakeAmazonPay. Yet for two decades numerous unions and campaigns across the globe have scratched their heads wondering how to curb the ever-expanding might of what has become one of the world’s most valuable companies. At Bad Hersfeld and (eventually) internationally, Amazon has become far more accustomed to strikes, yet the company’s power shows no signs of being tempered. Indeed in Germany, despite more than 300 days lost to strike action, Amazon has consistently been able to resist workers’ demand for a collective agreement.
Since a union in the workplace leads to both higher wages and better benefits — as well as erodes management’s authority — few bosses remain neutral during a union fight. It is not uncommon to find them returning to tactics that workers describe as intimidating or coercive. This is even true in workplaces that espouse “progressive” or left-wing principles, where rhetoric and politics mean little when money and power are on the line. This is what several employees allege happened when they tried to unionize at No Evil Foods — a large vegan foods brand founded in 2014 and available at more than 5,500 retail locations, including Whole Foods. No Evil Foods sought to appeal to social justice activists by using names like El Zapatista or Comrade Chuck for their products but were firm in their opposition to a union. After losing a union election, employees at a growing vegan food company have insights into how to overcome the challenges of organizing in a liberal workplace.