Amazon union election update: The period of ballot challenges is over, the count will come next. Per the union there were 3,215 ballots received. 5,805 went out. That’s a participation rate of ~55%. Much higher than organizers previously told me they expected.
What does the higher-than-expected turnout mean for the union? Well, if a lot of those people voted ‘yes,’ that’s good for the union. If they voted ‘no,’ then that’s bad for the union. Guess what I’m saying is don’t read too much into the turnout.
Union says hundreds of ballots were challenged, mostly by the company, and those are set aside unopened for now. If the margin in the election is smaller than the number of those challenged ballots, then those bad boys come into play and this is gonna take longer to sort out.
Talking with Amazon workers in Alabama, I was surprised at how many had union experience themselves or in their families. My dispatch on how Birmingham’s union past is shaping this campaign, and testing (false) preconceptions about labor and the South huffpost.com/entry/amazon-b…
I'd been reaching out to a lot of Amazon workers not involved in the campaign, to get a clearer view of things. The first one I spoke to said she was voting yes partly because her grandmother urged her to. A long time ago grandma had a union job at the phone company.
Amazon understands this dynamic. One of the company's most vocal 'no' voters, Ora McClendon, used to be a shop steward for the same union at another facility. She had a negative experience and publicly opposes the union. Amazon is happy to put her out there.
When I was in Alabama I hung out with a guy who’d driven from Oregon just to help the union’s Amazon campaign. No arrangement, just showed up. He volunteered his video skills then was hired. There’s a lot of that — just an eagerness to pitch in from all over. Really something.
There were volunteers who came down from Boston as well. No arrangement. They just asked how they can help. Organizers took them out to lunch, probably to check their motives. Then they let them help. Knock on doors, pass out fliers at the ballgame. It is a unique thing happening
I think quite a few unions would not have let these folks into the hall, let alone sent them out to talk to people in the community about the union. The organizers seemed genuinely appreciative of the solidarity, and wanted to put the energy to good use.
I just spent three days in Bessemer AL where the Amazon union election is happening. There’s a ton of interest in this election -- the biggest in ~20 years -- so I want to share some observations and let you all know where things stand. (thread)
This is an unusually long 7-week mail-in election for 5,800 Amazon workers, with two weeks left to go. Organizers expect maybe 40% participation. Back of the napkin suggests thousands of workers still have ballots out there, hence the hard campaigning on both sides
Union got 3000+ cards signed ahead of the election, but organizers acknowledge Amazon’s anti-union campaign surely turned some of those into 'no' votes. Amazon probably benefited from that pressure especially in the earlier voting.
I’ve seen a bunch of viral tweets about boycotting Amazon in solidarity with the warehouse workers in Alabama. To be clear, the union involved in the election @RWDSU has NOT called for a boycott and has nothing to do with this, a spokesperson confirms.
Boycotts are serious business. They are carefully deliberated within unions. Less so on Twitter!
The pro-union Amazon workers are not trying to inflict economic pain on their employer. They’re trying to win a union election. Big difference. An outside boycott could muddy the messaging and open up a bunch of unknowns. If I were part of the union effort I wouldn’t like this.
BREAKING: The labor board has denied Amazon's request to stop the union election from going forward at its Alabama warehouse. Ballots are scheduled to go out in the mail Monday morning. This thing is on.
Amazon asked the board to review its case arguing that the election should happen in-person *during a full-blown pandemic*. In a two-sentence order the board said it found "no substantial issues warranting review." Amazon's motion to stay also denied.
Oof. Even two GOP members of the board shot down Amazon here, essentially saying there's no good reason for an in-person vote in this case. That's got to sting.
In a WaPo story yesterday, the president of the union organizing Amazon’s warehouse in Alabama said they’ve gathered more than 3,000 union cards there. That figure has made some folks I've talked to queasy — and others optimistic — and it’s worth explaining why.
First off, that’s a big number! Having 3,000+ Amazon workers at a single warehouse sign union cards was tough to imagine not long ago. It’s a sign of real strength for the union, RWDSU. The concern is the size of the bargaining unit.
The NLRB has given the green light for an election involving about 6,000 Amazon workers. You need to win a simple majority of votes cast. If those 3,000+ come out for the union, the union wins. Problem is, employers always scare off some of the workers who signed cards.
NEW: White House official confirmed for me that Joe Biden just fired Peter Robb after he refused to resign as NLRB general counsel.
For those who haven't been following, this sets a new precedent. Unions wanted Robb gone immediately -- they think he's that bad -- but the gen counsel typically serves out their full 4-year term even when it spills into a new presidency. Background here: huffpost.com/entry/joe-bide…
Robb is a long-time mgmt-side attorney who helped break the famous PATCO strike. As gen counsel he drove unions crazy, getting McDonald's a friendly settlement in a big Fight for $15 case, going after 'neutrality' agreements, and even picking a fight with @ScabbyTheRat
Trump’s Labor Dept just issued a last-minute ‘guidance letter’ stating that local news reporters are doing ‘creative’ work and therefore can be excluded from minimum wage and overtime protections. This is something unnamed publishers would have asked of the administration:
A guidance letter is basically a memo to employers (and the world) explaining how the agency reads wage-and-hour law in particular scenarios. Guidance letters like this from the Trump labor department have made employers quite happy for obvious reasons.
There’s a history here. Workers employed in ‘creative’ capacities can be carved out of overtime pay, and that exception has been used against journalists before. When I explained this once to @ryangrim he said ‘so it all depend on how hot your takes are...’
Some labor news: SEIU has been pressing Biden to immediately fire Peter Robb, the NLRB's Trump-appointed general counsel. That's not normally done under a new prez. It would be a precedent-setting move that shows Biden willing to play hardball for unions huffpost.com/entry/joe-bide…
SEIU sent a memo to the Biden transition team calling Robb an “extreme, anti-union ideologue” and a “uniquely destructive figure.” SEIU has made the same case to other unions. Source tells me the AFL-CIO supports canning Robb as well. They all want him out of there ASAP.
With a Dem majority in the Senate, the main risk here is that a future R president will do the same, and fire a Dem general counsel who's got time left at the board. The can-Robb-now camp basically says "let's not bank on the GOP observing this norm next time they're in charge"
The McConnell-Cornyn "liability protection" proposal is pretty radical. Not only would it block lawsuits over COVID exposure, it would make it just about impossible for OSHA to enforce basic workplace safety laws. They couldn't even dole out the tiny fines they've been doing.
I guess they need to make sure Smithfield doesn't get hit with another monster $13,494 fine after some workers die from coronavirus.
The proposal would also protect corporations from enforcement/lawsuits related to a host of other employment laws: FLSA (wage theft), WARN (notice ahead of layoffs), Civil Rights Act and ADA (discrimination)
Many people don't realize this but OSHA has jurisdiction over the White House. Employees there could file complaints against Trump for endangering them with coronavirus. One former OSHA official tells me there's a strong case to be made he's violating the general duty clause. 1/x
This is the general duty clause -- OSHA has already used it to cite meatpacking plants for endangering workers in the pandemic. Sure looks like a strong case to me! 2/x
Former official says Trump may also be violating OSHA standards on personal protective equipment and respirators, and recklessly endangering White House employees in the process. 3/x
The @MachinistsUnion members have endorsed @JoeBiden. This is the only international union I know of that had rank-and-file members vote for who to endorse. Ballots were cast this week. (Most endorsements come from an executive board.) Union hasn’t yet released the full results.
I think it’s very cool that the Machinists did an endorsement by member vote. Not sure why more don’t do it: your members can’t complain about the endorsement being done in a smoky back room! Actually, I know exactly why more don’t do it.
Here are the full results. Biden beat Bernie 36-26. And Trump got 34.
So what's it like for low-wage women who need to pump breastmilk at work? We obtained nearly 400 federal investigations involving the "nursing mothers" law. The findings in these cases are sad and disturbing. I'm going to walk through them here. 1/X huffpost.com/entry/how-empl…
Federal law - if it covers you - guarantees reasonable time and a clean space to pump at work, thanks to Obamacare. We found employers all over the country had violated that law -- including household names like Walmart, Lowes, McDonald's, IHOP and the US Postal Service. 2/X
There's a lot of pressure on women to breastfeed for as long as they can. The reality is many bosses make it impossible. In so many cases, women said they gave up on breastfeeding because they couldn't get breaks or had to pump somewhere filthy. 3/X