Union Woes Threaten Amazon Holiday Deliveries

Union pilots who fly for Amazon Prime Air are suggesting Amazon customers “may want to think twice” before ordering last-minute deliveries from the ecommerce giant. Pilots are citing lowered pay, bad working conditions and staffing shortages as factors that may cause the ecommerce giant to struggle to deliver holiday gifts on time.

The Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224 has gone as far as launching a website at canamazondeliver.com listing their grievances and casting doubt on whether Amazon can make good on last-minute holiday deliveries.

The union represents pilots and others at the Wilmington, OH-based Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), where Amazon leases 20 Boeing 767-300 jets, and owns 20% of the company. Amazon also struck a deal with major air transport firm Atlas Air of Purchase, NY, leasing 20 of its Boeing 767-300 jets and taking up to a 30% stake in the company. These two deals are the basis upon which Amazon has built its Amazon Prime Air service.

There have already been significant issues with Amazon pilots. In late November, a federal judge ordered striking pilots with ATSG subsidiary ABX back to work. The judge found Amazon had not violated the terms of its collective bargaining agreement with the union.

Amazon’s labor woes aren’t limited to the U.S. Labor union Verdi has requested that workers at three of Amazon’s nine warehouses in Germany strike until Dec. 24. Workers at the company’s facility in Koblenz have been on strike since Monday, Dec. 21, citing many of the same concerns as the American pilots. Germany is Amazon’s second-biggest market after the U.S.

Amazon, however, seems unconcerned, regarding the pilots.

“Several weeks ago, we rebalanced capacity across our network of carrier partners to ensure there are no disruptions through the busy holiday season, and this rebalancing remains in effect — we are confident in our ability to serve customers,” said Kelly Cheeseman, Senior Communications Manager for Amazon. Regarding the German strike, another Amazon spokesperson said: “There is no impact on our delivery promise: Christmas presents will arrive in time.”

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