Source: CSN/Facebook

Laval, QC

by Ariana H.

Despite the trillion dollar company’s efforts at demoralizing and union busting, Amazon workers in Laval, Quebec are looking to join Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN). 

This is part of a wave of Amazon warehouses that are actively trying to get unionized, from British Columbia to New York. Announcing the vote, the CSN spoke about plans to expand the drive. “we call on all workers in Amazon’s other Quebec warehouses to stand up for their rights—even against a giant multinational!”

Amazon’s management has been desperate to save face, since. They’ve resorted to blatant lies to insist that they have no idea why the workers are turning to the union. Recently, for example, Amazon spokesperson Barbara Agrait told a press conference Amazon “already offers what many unions are requesting: safe and inclusive workplaces, competitive pay, health benefits on day one and opportunities for career growth.”

This is the same company that has become infamous for forcing its workers to urinate in bottles because they can’t get bathroom breaks. Its workplace deaths, its injury rate, firings and general workplace hazards have increased proportionately with its profit margins. And, as one Laval worker told CBC News, the conditions have not improved since. 

“I’ve seen people get injured. I’ve seen people get harassed, cry because managers are screaming at them, get followed to the toilets ’cause they can’t take toilet breaks.” 

This is exactly why Amazon workers are getting organized. 

And this has left Mr. Employees-Peeing-In-Bottles Bezos and his administrative team desperate to bust their union. They’ve tried to delay votes, intimidate, fearmonger and lie to stop the campaign.

This is a reminder that the capitalists will fight until the very end to preserve their parasitic positions in society. Ultimately, however, workers around the world are coming to realize that they need to unite against their bosses.Through experience, we learn our own strength.

Delta and New Westminster, B.C.

by Gabriel Lamonica-Sleczkowski

Amazon warehouses are infamous for being where health and safety goes to die. Unsurprisingly, two of them in B.C. recently applied to unionize with Unifor. 

This would make them the first Amazon warehouses in Canada to do so. This would be a win for workers and one that could inspire struggles elsewhere.

In B.C., if just 55 per cent of workers sign a union card, the workplace is automatically certified without a second vote.

But if the company doesn’t provide accurate employee numbers, as Unifor suspects, the union is left guessing how many cards they need to certify the warehouses as bargaining units.

Unifor has withdrawn their current applications, stating they need to verify employee information.

But they still plan to unionize the warehouses. We asked one Packaging department worker about why they support the union drive. 

They told us about the backbreaking conditions in the fulfillment centre:

“You have to scan an item every three minutes. If you don’t, you get a warning. If you get six warnings, you get fired.” 

“You can’t scan multiple and go for a water or bathroom break either. If you get injured, you have to go make a claim at the ‘Safety Office’, and you can incur warnings on your way.” 

Another worker, a veteran distribution worker of over a decade, told us that while their workload has increased, management has been busy clawing back their benefits. “We used to get good health benefits, stock in the company, and raises based on the productivity of the warehouse,” they said. “All of that has been taken away. Last September, corporate said they would replace this with a two-dollar-per-hour flat raise—they later lowered it to one dollar per hour, and we still haven’t received that.”

It’s no mystery why these workers are looking for a way to fight the giant. Unionization, however, is just the start. Even such a victory as the first unionization of an Amazon warehouse in Canada would not topple it. To decisively win their rights and benefits without fear of retraction, Amazon workers must take over their workplaces and run them democratically.