Drivers and dispatchers for Amazon contractor BTS (credit: International Brotherhood of Teamsters)
More than 80 delivery drivers and dispatchers for an Amazon contractor who just joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in April have initiated the first strike against the company at a hub in Palmdale, Calif., on Thursday, saying the company needs to address wages and working conditions.
Union issues for the company have been popping up like mushrooms across the country, from Queens and Staten Island, NY to Bessemer, Ala. and now California. The company has been working overtime to quell the labor unrest as well as the growing file of bad PR from worker accounts.
“We know Amazon’s massive profits are only possible thanks to our labor,” said Amazon driver Jesus Gutierrez in a Teamsters release. “We will not stand by while Amazon breaks the law. We are holding Amazon accountable for our safety on the job.”
The 84 workers, part of Delivery Service Partner (DSP) Battle-Tested Strategies, are members of Teamsters Local 396 in Los Angeles. A contract was negotiated and ratified with BTS but the union claims Amazon has refused to honor it, saying the ecommerce giant is calling the shots, not the contractor. “Instead, Amazon has engaged in dozens of unfair labor practices in violation of federal labor law,” the Teamsters claim in their release.
Some of the main complaints include quotas of 300 deliveries per driver day, in vans with no air conditioning. The Teamsters recently won a major concession from UPS during contract negotiations, with new vehicles delivered after Jan. 1, 2024 to have air conditioning. Stepvans already in service will get two fans each.
“Amazon has no respect for the rule of law, the health of its workers, or the livelihood of their families,” said Randy Korgan, Director of the Teamsters Amazon Division. “Workers are on strike today because the only thing this corporate criminal cares about is profits. We are sending a message to Amazon that violating worker rights will no longer be business as usual.”
The company, naturally, sees things a bit differently. It says it has ended the contract with BTS for various reasons, which the Teamsters dispute.
“While we respect everyone’s right to express their opinions, the facts here are being intentionally misrepresented by the Teamsters and (BTS),” said Amazon spokesperson Eileen Hards. “This company has a history of under-performance and not providing a safe environment, and was notified that Amazon was ending their contract before the Teamsters got involved to try and rewrite the facts.”