Chipotle workers in Lansing, Michigan, formed the fast food chain’s first recognized union in the U.S., voting 11-3 on August 25 to join Teamsters Local 243. It’s the latest in a string of new organizing breakthroughs at prominent national brands, from Starbucks to Apple to Trader Joe’s to REI.
Of all the employers that have seen union drives over the past year, Chipotle—with 100,000 employees across 3,000 stores, and long-term plans to double its footprint in North America—is the most similar to Starbucks. They’re both outliers in fast food: their stores are primarily corporate-owned, rather than franchised out to smaller operators.
Though chains like Subway and McDonald’s have more total locations, Starbucks and Chipotle are two of just four fast food chains with more than 1,000 company-operated locations. (The others are Panda Express and Arby’s.)
Amazon workers at the Staten Island, New York Fulfillment Center are preparing to file for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board. As previously reported, workers at this location have already brought a lawsuit against Amazon with respect to working conditions and hazards, which was subsequently dismissed. Now, workers are preparing to unionize at this location.
Amazon has taken actions to dissuade unionization by reportedly confiscating pro-union literature and distributing anti-union flyers. The company has also slandered an organizer who was fired from the location due to his unionization effort. A leaked memo described organizer and former warehouse employee Christian Smalls as “not smart or articulate”.
The election loss is a setback, but it shouldn’t be understood as a failed test of whether or not Amazon can be organized. The history of the union movement in the U.S. is full of losses that came before big wins. Photo: Joe Piette (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
What can union activists across the country take away from the high-profile defeat in the union vote at Amazon in Alabama?
The National Labor Relations Board announced April 9 that workers at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer, near Birmingham, had voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.
The tally was 71 percent no to 29 percent yes—though it’s possible the actual split was closer to 60-40, if you consider the large number of ballots that were cast but never counted because they were challenged by the company.Read More »
Locals and residents of Bessemer came out in support of the unionization drive by Amazon workers on March 20. Photo: Liberation
After more than seven weeks of ballot submissions, the workers at Amazon’s Bessemer warehouse in Alabama submitted their final votes on Monday, March 29, to decide whether or not they want a union. On Tuesday, March 30, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) began the count of over 5,800 ballots, the results of which could take the next couple of days to be released.
The unionization drive has grabbed national limelight over the past two months, not only because of the historical nature of the vote and the impact it could have on union organizing across the country, but also because it revealed the abysmal work culture at one of the United States’ largest employers. At the same time, the campaign unlike previous campaigns for unionizing Amazon workers managed to attract nationwide solidarity and support.Read More »
Bernie asks Jeff Bezos: You are worth $182 billion … why are you doing everything in your power to stop your workers from unionizing?
A Journal of People report
At a hearing on March 17, 2021, Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke critically about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who declined Sanders’ invitation to testify, and Elon Musk, the two wealthiest men.
“Bezos and Musk now own more wealth than the bottom 40%. Meanwhile, we’re looking at more hunger in America than at any time in decades,” Sanders said in his opening remarks at the Senate Budget Committee hearing, which was titled The Income and Wealth Inequality Crisis in America.
“If he was with us this morning, I would ask him the following question … Mr. Bezos, you are worth $182 billion – that’s a B,” Sanders said. “One hundred eighty-two billion dollars, you’re the wealthiest person in the world. Why are you doing everything in your power to stop your workers in Bessemer, Alabama, from joining a union?”Read More »
The new labor group focuses not only on wages and benefits like most unions, but also aims to play a role in the tech giant’s ethical decisions and protection against arbitrary firings for activism.
Employees of U.S. tech company Google and other units of its parent company Alphabet announced Monday the creation of a union, intensifying a period of activism targeting the Silicon Valley giants.
According to a statement, the Alphabet Workers Union, affiliated with the Communications Workers of America, aims to represent well-paid workers in the tech sector and temporary employees and contractors.
BRITAIN’S biggest tenants’ unions penned an open letter to the government today to demand strengthened protections for renters from the coronavirus crisis.
Acorn, Living Rent and the London Renters Union (LRU) wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick to demand that the government suspends all rents immediately, cancels all rent debts and puts in place more robust measures against evictions.
Pittsburgh – Educators at Environmental Charter School have voted for union representation in an official ballot conducted by the National Labor Relations Board this evening.
A clear majority of ECS teachers and other professionals elected to unionize after signing a petition last month stating their desire to join the American Federation of Teachers. Voter turnout was 100 percent.Read More »
WASHINGTON—The AFL-CIO has launched a national print and digital “Join a union” ad campaign, complete with quarter-page ads in top national and regional newspapers.
The point, federation President Richard Trumka says in an open letter to all workers – the centerpiece of the drive – is to tell workers if they want decent raises, better benefits, and a voice on the job, unionizing is the way to go.Read More »
North Carolina AFL-CIO President MaryBe McMillan speaking at a rally, with Rev. William Barber on her right. | North Carolina AFL-CIO
ST. LOUIS—Constant attacks on the rights of working people by the current administration occupying the White House have put the labor movement on the defensive across the country. The tough fight to spread the narrative about union power, push back the threat of anti-labor policies, and protect shrinking unions can make the outlook for the labor movement seem bleak.Read More »