Missouri Amazon workers file charges, say company tramples on right to organize
Amazon STL8 warehouse worker and organizing committee member Wendy Taylor speaks in Washington at an event with lawmakers introducing the Warehouse Worker Protection Act earlier this month. | Missouri Workers Center (@moworkerscenter) via X

ST. LOUIS (PAI)—In the first-of-its-kind complaint in the U.S., Amazon workers in St. Peters, Mo., represented by the Missouri Workers Center, charge the monster retailer breaks labor law by inhibiting their right to organize by combining invasive surveillance with too-speedy production lines.

“Within the last six months the above-named employer has maintained intrusive algorithms and other workplace controls and surveillance which interfere with Section 7 rights of employees to engage in protected concerted activity,” their complaint to the National Labor Relations Board’s regional office says. That’s an unfair labor practice, the formal name for company labor law-breaking.

In plain English, the mix of constant spying, including “electronic monitoring and automated control,” plus the high line speeds at Amazon’s STL8 warehouse leaves the nearly 4,000 workers there no time for the right labor law gives them to organize for their own protection.

“The workers filed this charge amidst an injury crisis at Amazon that driven by the company’s dangerous work rates, enforced through Amazon’s surveillance practices,” the workers center says.

The St. Peters warehouse workers base their complaint on a December 2022 memo by NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo covering employer surveillance on the job. They also note, in their press release, that the European Union’s labor regulators are probing Amazon’s similar practices there.

Meanwhile, the GMB (General, Municipal, Boilermakers, and Allied Trades) Union in the United Kingdom is on the verge of forcing a recognition election among workers at the Amazon warehouse in Coventry, Reuters reports.

Low pay at the warehouse is the other key issue among the 1,000 workers at the BHX4 warehouse there. The workers staged a two-day strike, demanding recognition and pay of £15 ($19 USD) an hour earlier this year.

St. Peters warehouse worker Wendy Taylor, a leader in the organizing drive there, told the workers center and their lawyer: “I’m forced to work at a breakneck pace, all while Amazon tracks my every move—for the sake of their profits.

“Not only does working under these conditions take a serious toll on my health and contribute to a sky-high injury rate at the company, it also makes it much harder to come together with my coworkers to discuss our issues and how to unionize for a safer and more humane workplace.

“Amazon might think they’re the only ones watching, but we’ve got our eyes on them too, and globally. Beyond this ULP, trade unions representing over eight million workers in Europe have called on their government to investigate Amazon’s abusive and potentially illegal surveillance of workers.

“This bold action wouldn’t be happening without workers like us sounding the alarm to stop Amazon before their Big Brother behavior becomes the norm at every workplace. We will keep organizing until we win the respect and dignity all workers deserve.”

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Press Associates
Press Associates

Press Associates Inc. (PAI), is a union news service in Washington D.C. Mark Gruenberg is the editor.