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Amazon Union Vote In Alabama Could Catch Attention of Syracuse Workers

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Courtesy Amazon
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Central New Yorkers applying for the 1,200 jobs at massive Amazon facilities in Clay and Dewitt might be keeping an eye on the outcome of the unionization effort at an Alabama warehouse.

Workers there and at other Amazon facilities have complained about very demanding working conditions with few breaks and insufficient pandemic safety precautions. Syracuse University Whitman School Assistant Professor of management Lynn Vincent said a ‘yes’ vote would be momentous.

“A ‘yes’ vote here could galvanize workers at other locations, not just the Syracuse location. I know other locations are watching Alabama. We all are.”

However, Vincent said a ‘no’ vote won’t stop the momentum. She says civil and workers’ rights movements have been gaining traction over the past year or so. 

“This is part of a larger conversation that we as a nation are having about racial and economic disparities. So this conversation is not going away, regardless of the outcome of this vote.”

She also noted that this is just a continuation of a tradition of unionization in the U.S., even as technology and the workforce changes over time.

“Technology has changed, the job that they are doing may have changed, but the expectation of very demanding, physical jobs for comparably lower wages is the same,” Vincent said. “We also see the same pattern of power, where the workers collectively have considerably less power and opportunity than their organization does.”

Alabama warehouse employees are getting support from Black Lives Matter, the NFL and even seem to have the empathetic ear of President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), among other politicians.  A cadre of House Democrats visited the warehouse earlier this month.

Amazon, meanwhile, has aggressively tried to shut down any unionization effort, actions Vincent says are unfortunately legal. Voting in Alabama is currently underway through the end of the month.  A vote count will take place March 30.