CLOSEClose Law.com Menu
 
X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Customer service workers at Amazon.com’s Seattle headquarters have started a drive to form a union. The workers hope to gather support from a majority of the 400 or so customer service representatives in Seattle. They hope to obtain union recognition and eventually a collective bargaining agreement. Assisting the Amazon workers in their efforts is the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, or WashTech. That group, a Seattle affiliate of the Communication Workers of America, gained notoriety during the 1990s for leading — and winning — several labor fights against Microsoft . With the holiday shopping season ramping up, the unionizing drive couldn’t come at a worse time for Amazon. What’s more, the drive also comes at a time when Amazon is under intense scrutiny. The company’s prospects have been the subject of heated debate on Wall Street, its shares have taken a beating and its performance during this holiday season is seen as particularly critical. The organizing workers have grievances on issues ranging from job security and low wages to mandatory overtime, according to Marcus Courtney, co-founder of WashTech. “They are very concerned about the continued expansion of customer service jobs in Grand Forks, N.D., and the outsourcing of jobs to India,” Courtney said. “When it comes to issues of how the department is run, they have no effective voice. And they have enormous amounts of forced mandatory overtime during the holidays.” Amazon, for its part, maintains that a union is not necessary. “Unions certainly have a role in society, but we don’t feel they are needed at Amazon, where everyone is an owner and can exercise their rights to raise workplace issues or concerns at any time,” said Patty Smith, an Amazon spokeswoman. Smith said unionizing drives have been attempted twice before, but failed each time to gain enough support. Amazon planned to hold several “all hands” meetings in its customer service center throughout the day Friday to discuss the unionization effort, Smith said. “It is an opportunity for everybody to ask questions,” she added. Nancy Becker, 35, who has worked for Amazon for two and a half years, says that during the holidays customer service employees have been asked to work as much as 50 hours per week. “If we are unable to meet that, our benefits get docked,” says Becker, a single mother categorized as a second-tier customer service representative at the online retailing giant. Smith said Amazon has been requiring mandatory overtime for a group of about 50 workers for the past two weeks, and has had brief periods of mandatory overtime this past summer and last year during the holidays. If the unionizing effort gains support and publicity this time around, it could hurt sales. At the very least, the situation could turn into a public-relations nightmare for the company. “What makes this truly significant,” Courtney says, “is that it shatters the myth that high-tech workers in the new economy are not interested in representation on the job and that unions are irrelevant in the 21st century.” Related Articles from The Industry Standard: Amazon Rises in the East Amazon Scores Big Revenue, Fewer Beatings Amazon Still a Beautiful Loser Copyright � 2000 The Industry Standard

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.