A small group of about 30 Amazon employees are considering joining the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which would mark the first union to operate at the giant online retailer, reports Re/Code.
Interestingly, that’s the same union that earlier this month narrowly approved a contract with Boeing, one which will likely keep much of the production of the 777X jumbo jet in the Seattle area.
At Amazon, the workers at a Delaware warehouse are most interested in unionizing for the purposes of vacation and promotion policies and the possible creation of a safety committee.
The latter issue of safety is a hot-button issue at Amazon, given media reports of adverse working conditions at some of the company’s facilities. Amazon in November hit back at a BBC report which alleged that working conditions at a fulfillment center could lead to conditions causing mental illness.
Amazon.com offered this statement to GeekWire on it safety policies:
The top priority of our fulfillment center network is safety — it’s safer to work in the Amazon fulfillment network than in a department store. We measure progress on safety using the “recordable incidence rate,” which is the primary metric defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that oversees workplace safety.
About 1,500 people work at the Delaware facility, and those who have consider joining the union are being persuaded to vote against it by Amazon.
Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako sent this statement:
“We respect the individual rights of our associates and have an open-door policy that allows and encourages associates to bring their comments, questions and concerns directly to their management teams. We firmly believe this direct connection is the most effective way to understand and respond to the needs of our workforce and do not believe there is a need for third-party representation. Amazon’s culture and business model are based on rapid innovation, flexibility and open lines of direct communication between managers and associates. We are committed to providing not just competitive wages and comprehensive benefits, but also a network of support to ensure our employees succeed.”
We’ve reached out to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and we’ll update this post as we hear more on the vote.
The vote is likely to take place on Wednesday evening.
Here is more on the union situation from Bloomberg News.