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Prevent Union Organizing
It's well known that Amazon stayed union-free when employees in Bessemer, Alabama, didn't vote to unionize in early 2021. It was a definitive vote, too, with 738 employees voting for the union and 1,798 workers voting against it. To date, Amazon has no unionized facilities despite repeated labor union efforts. It's a true victory because Amazon employs more than 950,000 people in the U.S. and counting. The pro-union employees and labor unions believe that getting one union victory in an Amazon facility, like a fulfillment center, would open the door to widespread unionization at Amazon.
It's important to note that Amazon has many different operations. The Bessemer facility is a customer fulfillment center, but there are also Amazon facilities like tech hubs, warehouses, and business offices. The union targets employees like warehouse and fulfillment center employees because they are the lowest-paid and fit the characteristics of the type of employees historically recruited by unions.
There are two sets of factors to attribute to why Amazon stayed union-free. Let's dive into them.
Amazon treats its employees well. During the union organizing campaign, the union representatives and employees supporting the union offered a skewed view of management and Human Resources policies. They didn't mention a number of positive aspects of working for Amazon. They didn't mention the holistic approach Amazon takes to caring for its employees.
Is Amazon a perfect employer? Of course not! When the founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, decided to step down, he wrote a letter about the failed Bessemer unionization attempt. In that letter, he addresses some of the issues the union focused on, like high-performance goals and workplace safety.
Amazon is clearly not the employee-abusing company the union tried to portray it as, and a majority of employees voting in the union election agreed.
Coupled with the holistic approach to positive employee relations was a thorough company response to the union organizing campaign. Amazon stayed union-free because the company:
In other words, Amazon stayed union-free because they left nothing to chance. It communicated internally with employees and externally with the public. The company's response to the union organizing campaign was organized and thorough, had consistent messaging, defended employee and employer rights, and deployed all the tools and resources it had available. Amazon leadership clearly understands labor law and TIPS and FOE rules when deploying its union-free strategy.
#Amazon stayed union-free because they left nothing to chance - they communicated internally with employees and externally with the public. Their response to the #unionorganizing campaign was organized, proactive, and thorough.
Some employees shared their reasons for voting against joining a union. Their reasons can be placed into two buckets. Based on published comments, most voted "no" to unions because they liked their jobs and the benefits and the way Amazon cared for them holistically on their employee engagement journey. The second group voted against joining a union because they had belonged to unions in prior jobs and had bad experiences.
Following are some of the employee voices explaining why they voted no, so that Amazon stayed union-free.
Notice that Amazon's holistic approach to positive employee relations is the theme of most of the employee comments concerning their reasons for voting against unionizing. The company offers comprehensive benefits that care for the health of the employee and family. It cares about employee safety, training, relationships with management, career opportunities, scheduling to allow for family needs, and helping employees with special needs. Amazon takes care of the whole employee.
So the bottom line is that the main reason Amazon continues to stay union-free is that management strives to take a holistic approach to positive employee relations, and positive employee relations are a function of leadership training in employee engagement. Leaders do a great job responding to threats of unionization, but employees vote "yes" or "no" based on their employee experience, relationships with management, and trust in management's commitment to addressing major issues.
A no vote is really the sum of how you treat your employees before a union organizing campaign begins.
Employees voting "no" on a union is really the sum of how you treat them, far before a union organizing campaign begins. #proactive #unionorganizing #unionfree
The emerging union-friendly environment we have frequently discussed in blogs is a signal you need to develop a strategy now to strengthen positive employee relations and a strategy to prepare for union organizing so you can rapidly and thoroughly respond to a union organizing campaign. In the Proactive Era, employers rigorously develop holistic employee relations because the relationship between employees and management will determine your ability to stay union-free. Your employees can become the company's powerful advocates who oppose a union organizing campaign. Employee voices are much louder than management voices.
Your strategy to stay union-free requires a comprehensive approach to developing positive employee relations. There are never any guarantees that, despite all efforts, unions will not target your business. That's why you also need integrated proactive strategies that focus on positive employee relations and labor relations readiness to respond to union activity of any kind.
Follow the Amazon lead, and leave nothing to chance. We have always felt that a proactive, not reactive approach to remain union-free. Don't hesitate to reach out to our experienced consultants at Projections to get started on the development of strategies for union proofing your company through leadership training in positive employee relations and labor relations, and by accessing the resources and tools you need to stay union-free before and during a union organizing campaign.
With over 25 years in the industry, and now as IRI's Director of Business Development, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.