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Teamsters Canada files for union vote at Alberta Amazon fulfilment centre, marking first step in unionization effort


Filing comes just a day after Amazon announced plans to hire 15,000 new full- and part-time workers and hike pay

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A Teamsters Canada local has filed for a union vote for workers at the Amazon Canada fulfilment centre in Nisku, Alta., representing the first step in a broader attempt to organize Canadian employees of the e-commerce giant.

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If the Alberta Labour Relations Board verifies the Teamsters Local Union 362 application, all workers at the YEG 1 fulfilment centre who were employed as of Monday will be able to vote on joining the union.

“Amazon won’t change without a union. Be it on job security, pace of work, discrimination, favouritism or wages, the company has proven itself to be profoundly anti-worker,” said François Laporte, national president of Teamsters Canada, in a press release.

The filing comes just a day after Amazon announced it planned to hire 15,000 new full- and part-time warehouse and distribution workers across Canada at between $17 and $21.65 per hour and hike pay for existing workers by between $1.60 and $2.20 more per hour. Benefits would kick in for new workers immediately.

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“We take our responsibility as an employer seriously,” said Sumegha Kumar, Amazon Canada’s director of Canadian customer fulfilment operations. “Amazon Canada employs over 25,000 Canadians, and we’re proud to create 15,000 more great jobs at a time when they’re needed in Canada.”

The company has proven itself to be profoundly anti-worker

François Laporte, national president, Teamsters Canada

The Teamsters said in a news release the pay raise was “a response to organizing efforts by the Teamsters Union across Canada,” but it still falls short of wage rates for Teamsters-unionized workplaces, which range between $24.50 and $31.93 per hour.

It also alleged the wage bumps coincided with the elimination of a monthly performance bonus for workers of between $100 and $300 per month, and said Amazon workers were doubtful they’d earn more money with the new wages.

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The Teamsters, which have long represented other warehousing and delivery service workers, began visiting Amazon facilities in Calgary, Edmonton, Milton, Cambridge and Kitchener in July as part of its campaign to unionize the company’s workers and couriers.

The union alleges Amazon warehouse workers face “intense demands,” such as picking up an item every nine to 12 seconds and face disciplinary action if they fall behind, which has led to higher injury rates at Amazon facilities. It said in July workers, even those who are young and fit, commonly experienced lower back and knee pain.

Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama voted overwhelmingly against unionizing in April. Last month, a US labour board recommended a new election, saying the company’s anti-union tactics may have affected the vote.

The Teamsters local said it’s expecting similar tactics in Alberta, and has established an email address for Nisku workers to report instances of pressure on the issue of unionization.

Financial Post

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