Amazon Offering Workers At Unionizing Alabama Plant Cash Money To Quit Their Jobs
Amazon really, really, really does not want the 5,805 workers in its Alabama warehouse to unionize. The company pulled out all the stops before voting started on February 8 and has only ramped up those efforts in the meantime. For months, workers have been besieged with anti-union messaging, in the signs in their bathrooms at work, in five text messages a day, in anti-union meetings they are required to attend, and on the ridiculous "Do It Without Dues" anti-union website featuring happy workers supposedly getting all of the benefits of a union without paying dues.
These workers apparently come from some far off future where they magically no longer have any of the issues Amazon workers face, issues that spurred them to unionize in the first place.
The latest gambit is that workers were sent an email this week offering them $2,000 (or more!) bonuses if they quit now, likely so they can be replaced with workers who will vote against unionizing.
Via PaydayReport, which specializes in covering labor issues:
[W]orkers throughout the plant received emails offering them bonuses if they simply quit their jobs. The emails offer workers, who worked for 2 peak seasons, at least $2,000 to quit. If workers have been there at least 3 peak seasons, they are offering them $3,000.
Some Amazon workers, who dislike their job at the warehouse, may find the bonuses a tempting bridge to quit their job and seek something better. Workers are even being told that if they quit now that they could regain their jobs later after the union election.
However, if workers quit now, they won't be eligible to vote in the ongoing union election. In the meantime, many labor observers expect that Amazon will seek to hire replacements that will vote solidly anti-union.
"That should be illegal, how can you pay someone to resign," says 48-year-old Black Amazon worker Jennifer Bates. "They are going all the way, they are pulling out all the stops".
While it's not explicitly illegal, since it's actually the first time a company has ever tried this so it never occurred to anyone to make a law, it is illegal for an employer to bribe employees not to vote to unionize, and these "resignation bonuses" could possibly be considered a bribe of a kind.
Surely, however, if they can afford to pay their employees to leave, they have enough money to pay them more now.
here are images of the "resignation bonuses" being sent to workers. https://t.co/TiFhJdMS30— Mike Elk (@Mike Elk)1613952558.0
We love that you're part of the team. But if you have goals outside of Amazon, we want to support you. That's why we have a voluntary resignation program called "The Offer" — an exit bonus starting at $1000, based on how many Peaks you've worked.
Notably, "The Offer" is only good from February 24 to March 16 and it appears it is only being offered to employees at this particular warehouse. So it's not so much a "program" meant to help workers achieve their dreams as it is just a plea for them to quit so the warehouse won't unionize. Legally, Amazon is barred from firing people for unionizing, so this would take care of that problem. Of course, any workers who did quit would not be eligible for unemployment.
This is the first Amazon union vote in years, and if it is successful, would be the first Amazon union ever. Amazon is obviously terrified not only of this warehouse unionizing, but of other workers in other warehouses and departments unionizing — which I see as the surest possible sign they should unionize as soon as possible. (Full disclosure, Rebecca has actually encouraged us to unionize, but we are a super small shop without any specific demands and WGA doesn't really know what to do with that, so I'm trying to figure something else out!)
As an aside, Stacey Abrams put out a pretty great video this weekend publicly supporting the unionization efforts at the Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse and encouraging workers to vote yes, joining other prominent progressives like AOC and Bernie Sanders who have also publicly supporters the workers' efforts.
I’m proud to support the historic efforts of @BAmazonUnion seeking to unionize with @RWDSU. Working Americans des… https://t.co/0kkLf7bUGO— Stacey Abrams (@Stacey Abrams)1613866890.0
If someone says they have a "union job," the first thing we assume is they have a secure job that pays well, has good benefits, and that they have rights in their workplace. Amazon workers deserve that, as do all workers in general. Amazon is not desperately concerned its workers will have to pay dues to a union, it's freaked that a union means lower profit margins for those at the top.
Which, not coincidentally, is one way to very clearly tell employees they'd get more with a union!
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse