2022 may be the year of unionization at some of America’s largest companies. Some Amazon, Apple, and Starbucks workers have tried, and in some cases, had success unionizing stores. However, the results of the efforts have been mixed. The huge public corporations have fought back aggressively. As is often the case, a major step of unionization is strikes. Amazon faces a huge one.
According to Bloomberg, Amazon workers will stage walkouts in warehouses across 40 countries. They will likely be most widespread in Germany and France. The reasons for the strikes are the same as they have been for decades. Workers are paid too little. Their work conditions are poor. This could be dangerous conditions at facilities. Their vacation time is too short.
The effort to unionize at Amazon’s warehouses in the U.S. has been spotty. The Amazon Labor Union’s most recent target was in upstate New York. In that case, workers voted against the union. The same group had a victory in Staten Island.
Amazon says it pays workers well. Payscale reports that the average hourly pay is just below $18. While this is higher than Starbucks and McDonald’s, it may be too little to cover daily living expenses, particularly as inflation rises.
Amazon’s Achilles heel is its warehouse system. The huge facilities are the distribution hubs and they store goods for Amazon’s huge army of trucks and those it uses from FedEx and UPS. Any one of these that is shut down could disrupt delivery across a large geographic area. That significantly affects Amazon’s revenue, particularly during the holiday season.
Is this the year labor posts significant headway against Amazon? At this point, the walkouts don’t appear widespread enough. Unionization movements often take time. There is always next year.
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