New Teamsters Head Vows to Take on Amazon

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters welcomes a new president this week in Sean O’Brien who is taking over from long-time president James Hoffa. Sean who has led a union in Boston has vowed to use the Teamsters’ popularity and sway to unionize the Amazon workers including their drivers.

Amazon as the second largest employer in the US just behind Walmart has faced increasing pressure over recent years from employees attempting to unionize but has so far been successful in resisting. The Amazon Labor Union, a group of Amazon workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, garnered enough support for the National Labor Relations Board to approve an election that will take place at the end of March. This is the result after organizers lost an election to unionize a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama in April 2021.

However, the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union filed charges that Amazon was guilty of interfering in that vote and won an appeal to have another election in Bessemer, which is currently underway.

O’Brien Wants The Teamsters To Step In Against Amazon

Taking on Amazon was one of O’Brien’s core pledges during his campaign to replace Hoffa in the latest election. This was important to O’Brien as he stated that the Teamsters was perhaps the only organization that has the resources to take on Amazon.

“It’s not going to be a traditional organizing drive because Amazon went from being a book club to a global economy,”

“The traditional tactics of standing outside the gates and handing out cards aren’t going to work, but we’re going to pursue organizing the warehouses because that’s where the majority of their employees are.”

Sean O’Brien, President, The International Brotherhood of Teamsters

This could be the perfect time for the Teamsters as the feeling of unrest still remains high amongst a lot of Amazon workers. Just last week there was a coordinated strike on the nightshift of two warehouses in New York and one in Maryland.

O’Brien has also made it clear that Amazon isn’t the only business in his sights, but several other businesses in the eCommerce space, especially the couriers.

“From a union perspective, we’re going to negotiate the strongest contracts in similar industries like UPS and DHL, and that’s going to be our marketing tool to bring to these workers and say, ‘Look, this is what you get when you work under a union contract,’ ”

Sean O’Brien, President, The International Brotherhood of Teamsters

With the current unionization votes for Amazon taking place over the next few weeks and months, we will see if the unions have done enough to convince workers to make that leap towards unionization amidst the Amazon pressure to dissuade the action.

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