Amazon's Long Game on Labor
Bloomberg Businessweek|March 15, 2021
If workers accept a union, the company may still try to avoid the bargaining phase
By Matt Day and Josh Eidelson

It’s impossible to predict the outcome of the union vote under way at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. As Bloomberg recently reported, workers are sharply divided about the benefits of organizing in a town where Amazon’s $15-an-hour starting wage goes a long way. But one thing is almost certain: Even if the union emerges victorious, Amazon’s own campaign is far from over.

Winning recognition of a union “is sort of like a sports team getting to the playoffs,” says John Budd, who tracks labor issues at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. “It’s important, but it really isn’t the end goal.”

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which is running the organizing campaign, says its goal is a contract with Amazon.com Inc. But Amazon has fought hard to keep unions out of its U.S. operations and will have a menu of options if the vote doesn’t go its way, such as contesting the result, dragging out talks with the union, or closing the 855,000-squarefoot warehouse entirely, a prospect already on the minds of some Bessemer workers and politicians.

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