The employees, who work as mechanics, would have joined the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, but 21 to 6 voted against the move. While this only represents a small subset of that warehouse's workers (1,500 more work as packers and shippers), it was the first unionization vote ever held in an Amazon warehouse in America. The union said employees wanted better safety conditions and promotions.
While an Amazon spokeswoman blamed the vote's failure on the employees' preference for a "direct connection," which "is the most effective way to understand and respond to the wants and needs of our employees," the union's spokesman said "the workers at Amazon faced intense pressure from managers and anti-union consultants hired to suppress this organizing drive."
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, that pressure included "meetings of the technicians to explain the company’s opposition to unions and ask for a second chance to resolve the dispute. Among the messages conveyed, according to the pro-union employee, was that unions in general were harmful to the United States. The employee said the sessions created stark and vociferous divisions among the technicians."
While Amazon has resisted any efforts to unionize its employees thus far, German workers have had slightly more success -- last month, between 1,200 and 1,800 of them went on strike. Then again, over 1,000 others signed a petition against unionization.
Amazon maintains that it pays and treats it employees well.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.