Workers arriving at Hamilton’s Amazon warehouse on Wednesday morning met a handful of people in bright yellow vests with a brochure and sign saying “Amazon needs a union!”.
Members of Teamsters Local 879 said they stepped up their efforts after hearing from some workers at the Mountain Fulfillment Center who were interested in unionization.
“There was a call from Amazon workers about the internal situation and how they were treated,” said Jim Killy, who is in charge of organizing the union. “When they call, we come.”
According to Killy, action outside the Hamilton Fulfillment Center follows similar leaflet distributions in other Amazon locations in Ontario, Milton, Cambridge, Kitchener, and London.
“There is an organization campaign across Canada with Team Stars,” he said.
Robot facility conducted by the company Called Canada’s “most technologically advanced fulfillment center” will open within a month, and Amazon announced in April that it would set up three more Ontario facilities in 2023.
According to online retail giants, the four centers together create 4,500 “safe” jobs, with at least 1,500 jobs in Hamilton’s location.
Amazon spokesman Dave Bauer previously told the CBC that the majority of local warehouse workers are full-time with a starting salary of $ 18.70 per hour.
According to Bauer, workers also enjoy medical, visual and dental coverage, as well as other benefits such as group RRSP plans, stock rewards and performance bonuses.
Amazon spokesman Lima Boussfa was asked to comment on the union’s activities in Hamilton, not thinking that “unions are the best answer for employees,” but said the choice was up to the workers.
“Our focus remains on working directly with our team to make Amazon a great place to work,” Boussoufa wrote in an email.
Paul Gray describes Amazon as “one of Canada’s most notorious anti-union companies.”
An assistant professor of labor research at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, pointed out reports of warehouse stress and “incredibly” high injuries due to Amazon’s allocation.
Wages may be higher than other entry-level jobs, but lower compared to other warehousing operations, Gray said.
“Many of these workers say that compensation may be relatively good, but that doesn’t justify the working conditions that put them at risk.”
Union representatives say they have heard workers’ concerns
Lack of breaks, shortened vacations, and docking the time it takes to traverse a large facility to use the washroom are one of the concerns I’ve heard from Hamilton staff.
He refused to be more specific because of the need to protect workers.
Unioning efforts are underway at Amazon sites across Canada, including Montreal and Alberta. Here, Team Stars Union is applying for a second union at the Amazon site near Edmonton.
The news of a recent union vote by Amazon workers at the Staten Island facility in New York City “has attracted a lot of interest,” Killy said in Canada.
A The second vote for the union failed Earlier this month, the organizer’s setback on the Staten Island site.
Gray, a professor of labor research, said one of the biggest challenges for those looking to form a union at the Amazon location is the “mass sales” that factories tend to see.
He said the New York union movement would provide lessons for Canada’s efforts, including that the organizers were people known to colleagues and warehouse staff.
Third parties, such as established unions, see it as a sign for building relationships over time, and employees see it as a “genuine collective of workers themselves, not groups coming in from the outside.” You need to be able to feel that you have a good voice.
The union says the campaign doesn’t end in a week
Hamilton’s Team Stars spent about an hour on Wednesday handing out pamphlets to share wage comparisons and contact information to people driving cars in parking lots and workers being unloaded by bus.
According to Killy, the union could help ensure “respect in the workplace” and secure contract details through collective bargaining agreements.
“For now, they are individuals,” he gestured to the Amazon building and the people inside it.
“We will do our best to protect you and get what you deserve through collective bargaining.”
Killy estimated that a small group of Team Stars in the field distributed hundreds of pamphlets.
They came across a question about “a lot of support” and how to get the Team Stars, he added, describing it as a “very positive reaction.”
According to Killy, the action is to disseminate information and the union plans to return and distribute more information.
“This will be a campaign that doesn’t end in a week,” he said. “We’re here until they say’no’or get certified. “