The Hamilton Spectator

Unifor applies to represent B.C. Amazon workers


Unifor has filed two applicatio­ns to represent Vancouver-area Amazon workers with the B.C. Labour Relations Board.

The union said in a press release it has filed applicatio­ns for an Amazon fulfilment centre in New Westminste­r and one in Delta.

“Workers at Amazon are seeking job security, health and safety, and fair wages,” Lana Payne, the union’s national president, said in the release.

Unifor first announced a union drive for Amazon workers in Metro Vancouver last July, and says workers began signing cards in October.

When the union drive was announced, Payne said Amazon workers put themselves at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, and joining a union would help them push their employer to improve working conditions.

The drive is part of a wider movement that has been facing an uphill battle.

Two years ago, Amazon workers in Staten Island, N.Y., voted to unionize, a historic moment for a brand-new Amazon Labor Union.

But today, that warehouse remains the only U.S. site that has voted to unionize, and it doesn’t have a contract yet as the retail giant is resisting efforts to bargain.

“We call on Amazon to respect the wishes of workers and avoid using the legal tricks and games it has played in the past to block unionizati­on,” Unifor western regional director Gavin McGarrigle said in the press release.

Unifor said the labour relations board will determine whether a vote is needed to certify the applicatio­ns.

Under B.C. law, if the signed cards represent more than 55 per cent of the eligible workforce at a facility, union certificat­ion is granted and the union and employer can begin bargaining a collective agreement.

If the cards represent at least 45 per cent of the eligible workforce, a vote may be called instead.

A spokespers­on for Amazon said the company looks forward to working with employees to “continue making Amazon a great place to work.”

“The fact is, Amazon already offers what many unions are requesting: safe and inclusive workplaces, competitiv­e pay, health benefits on day one, and opportunit­ies for career growth,” spokespers­on Barbara Agrait said in an email.

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