Workers at the Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama have been offered $2,000 dollars by the company to resign amidst their effort to unionize their workplace. Workers who quit would forfeit their vote in the union election which is slated to continue until March 29th. Internal emails offered up to $3000 for longer tenured workers, with the possibility of being hired back later after the results of the election are known.
It’s a divide-and-conquer strategy that tries to play on the very exploitation and poverty wages the workers are trying to fight in the first place.
This is an old tactic for Amazon. At warehouses across the country, Amazon has used a “buy-out” offer to get workers to quit and start their own business delivering packages for Amazon. This way Amazon gets workers on contract rather than an hourly wage for driving and doesn’t have to include other benefits.
This time, however, they seem to be specializing in just getting workers to quit before they can vote on whether to have a union. Apparently, Amazon is really scared of workers organizing. And they should be!
But that’s not all…
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requires that 30 percent of workers at a workplace sign union authorization cards for there to be a representation election. When Amazon workers began organizing at Bessemer, the company reported 1,500 eligible workers. Just when the workers got 30 percent of what they thought they needed, the company said that it had many more workers—and the NLRB agreed. The company threatened to delay the election unless the union agreed to expand the vote to cover nearly 5900 workers, which the union did. So, the workers and the union had to get at least hundreds, maybe a thousand or more cards signed—just to have the election. But they did it in just a couple of days, showing the workers’ anger at Amazon and their determination to make a fight.