Last Thursday, June 15th, Amazon experienced a first-ever strike among its delivery drivers in Palmdale, California. 84 striking workers — delivery drivers and dispatchers — walked out on the company, demanding better safety conditions and an increase in pay. However, Amazon responded that those on strike do not work for the company.
Amazon drivers and dispatchers in Palmdale, CA walk out on strike to demand Amazon bargain with their union pic.twitter.com/zT71ZMsnlJ
— Michael Sainato (@msainat1) June 15, 2023
The drivers and dispatchers are the same people who unionized with the Teamsters in April of this year. They were also recognized by Amazon Delivery Service Partner (DPS) Battle-Tested Strategies a month later, in May of this year.
Talking about the poor conditions in which they work, one of the delivery drivers, Cecilia Porter, said,
The back of an Amazon van feels like an oven in the summer. I’ve felt dizzy and dehydrated, but if I take a break, I’ll get a call asking why I’m behind on deliveries. We are protecting ourselves and saying our safety comes first.
Amazon Claims that the Drivers Don’t Actually Work for its Company
Since the company failed to respond to its employees’ demands, they decided to walk out and demand that the firm comes to the bargaining table and negotiate new contracts.
However, the company’s response is that they don’t work directly for Amazon — they work for DSP, which is only contracted by Amazon.
Amazon #Teamsters in Palmdale, CA are walking out today in the fight for good jobs at Amazon.
— Teamsters (@Teamsters) June 15, 2023
The company has even taken steps to address media outlets that hinted at the drivers working for Amazon itself, asking them to change the wording of their titles to “drivers delivering for Amazon.”
As a result, the company is not obligated to bargain with them. The union has spent the entire last month trying to prove this wrong, claiming that Amazon still holds complete control of DSP’s operations, and as such, it should be held accountable.
The drivers wear Amazon clothes and usually drive delivery vehicles covered in Amazon artwork. The company also tightly controls what the drivers are allowed to look like and what they post online, and it even forces them to accept AI surveillance.
Another of the unionized drivers, Raj Singh, said,
We are on the picket line today to demand the pay and safety standards that we deserve. We work hard for a multibillion-dollar corporation. We should be able to provide food and clothes for our kids.
Amazon Terminated the DSP’s Contract
Amazon’s high levels of control were a major part of unfair labor charges filed against the company by the union back in early May.
The National Labor Relations Board filing called Amazon out for such practices. It also noted that Amazon provides branded trucks, uniforms, and conditions and terminates employees unilaterally.
In response, the company terminated the DSP’s contract, according to the Teamsters, and refused to bargain. Amazon responded to this as well, stating that the DSP had been terminated due to “poor performance,” which is a statement that the DSP owner denied.
Randy Korgan, the director of the Teamsters Amazon Division, said that the company has no respect for the rule of law, its workers’ health, or their families livelihood.
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