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The Next Step in Controlling Amazon


California continues to attempt to control Amazon’s Gilded Age style labor practices:

In the latest sign of the growing scrutiny of Amazon’s labor practices, the California State Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would place limits on production quotas for warehouse workers.

The bill, which passed the Senate 26-to-11, was written partly in response to high rates of injuries at Amazon warehouses. The legislation prohibits companies from imposing production quotas that prevent workers from taking state-mandated breaks or using the bathroom when needed, or that keep employers from complying with health and safety laws.

The Assembly, which passed an initial version in May, is expected to approve the Senate measure by the end of the state’s legislative session on Friday.

“In the Amazon warehouse space, what we’re trying to take on is this increased use of quotas and discipline based on not meeting the quotas, without a human factor in dealing with a reason why a worker might not make a quota,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the bill’s author, said in an interview last week.

Note as well the driving force behind this:

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which backed the California bill and whose local officials have helped to derail a tax abatement for Amazon in Indiana and approval for an Amazon facility in Colorado, has committed to providing “all resources necessary” to unionize Amazon workers.

“This is a historic victory for workers at Amazon and other major warehouse companies,” Ron Herrera, a Teamsters official who is president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said in a statement. “These workers have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, while suffering debilitating injuries from unsafe quotas.”

In fact, the Teamsters are moving hard around the nation to rally forces against Amazon. It’s clear that they want to organize Amazon workers. But rather than follow the path of the Retail Workers, holding a traditional organizing campaign to unionize a workforce that they lose under employer intimidation in an NLRB vote, the Teamsters are seeking to show workers that they can beat up on Amazon before they engage in direct organizing. It’s a long game strategy. No idea if it will work. But this is a time to be creative.

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