A small group of drivers for an Amazon delivery contractor in California has joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the first fruits of a concerted effort by the country’s most powerful union to organize workers at the massive ecommerce company both inside and outside its warehouses.
The company, for its part, said it had terminated Battle-Tested Strategies, the contractor employing the drivers, some time before the Teamsters announcement for unrelated performance issues.
The 84 drivers are joining Teamsters Local 396 in Los Angeles, through a tentative agreement between the local, a regional Teamsters council and Battle-Tested Strategies, which sidesteps a lengthy vote process. The delivery service provider (DSP) operates out of a hub called DX8 in Palmdale, CA.
The agreement will be voted on by members in the coming weeks, the Teamsters said. It calls for immediate pay increases, substantial hourly raises in the fall, and for holding Amazon accountable on health and safety standards and adding a grievance procedure.
“Amazon workers are joining the Teamsters to demand more from this company, including good wages, safe working conditions and respect,” said Randy Korgan, Teamsters Amazon Division Director and Teamsters Joint Council 42 Director of Organizing, in a release. “The Teamsters are coordinating nationwide with Amazon workers, allies committed to holding this corporation accountable, and our union’s 1.2 million members to make sure Amazon provides the benefits and protections that working people deserve.”
A Teamsters spokesperson said the union has been reaching out to Amazon workers around the country, and drivers for Battle-Tested Strategies were very interested. “These workers had been frustrated for a while,” the spokesperson said. “They had petitioned Amazon over health and safety concerns regarding extreme heat previously during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.”
Amazon spokesperson Eileen Hards said Battle-Tested Strategies no longer provided services for Amazon, accusing the Teamsters of spreading a false narrative, whether intentional or not. “This particular third-party company had a track record of failing to perform and had been notified of its termination for poor performance well before (Monday’s) announcement,” Hards said. “This situation is more about an outside company trying to distract from their history of failing to meet their obligations.”
The owner of the DSP company told CNBC his contract was terminated by Amazon after he raised concerns about safety and working conditions at DX8.
A year ago, workers at Amazon fulfillment center JFK8 in Staten Island, NY voted to organize as the fledgling Amazon Workers Union. The vote, a first at Amazon’s hundreds of U.S. facilities, made fired AWU organizer Chris Smalls a folk hero. A vote in nearby Queens failed the following month.
The JFK8 vote has since been tied up in back-and-forth wrangling and federal intervention. In January, the National Labor Relations Board ruled against Amazon’s petition to have the vote decertified due to what it alleged were improprieties and government favoritism.
Amazon has also prevailed in two union votes at a fulfillment center in Bessemer, AL, with an organizer claiming in January he was terminated for his activities, which the company denied.