Reports suggest that Amazon.com Inc is taking part in ‘intimidation and harassment’ tactics against union organisers at Montreal. They are in the middle of a union drive, specified the union under which they are organising. According to the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) , its legal department sent letters to management last month and in the beginning of June. In it, they accused the retail giant of violating the rights of the workers.
David Bergeron-Cyr, vice president of CSN stated that the Seattle-based company has emerged with full energy with an anti-union message spreading through the Montreal fulfilment centre. Additionally, the union submitted images to the Canadian Press indicating the warehouse’s break room which appeared full of posters on the walls separating the dining tables. Along with it, Amazon sent messages to personal devices of workers reminding that opting for a union is their personal choice.
Quebec, unlike other provinces of Canada, has automatic union certification, and over 50% of employees sign union cards. A vote by secret ballot is planned if over 35% but less than 50% workers sign on. According to labour laws of Quebec, employers hold the right to oppose unionisation, but are not supposed to interfere with the union drive, or even issue promises based on the result.
A worker said, “Most people you talk to think we deserve more. But they don’t want to sign the union card because they’re afraid that the company will know that they did and will fire them.”
Additionally, Teamsters Local 362 is attempting again to organise following an unsuccessful attempt last year at the Edmonton-area Nisku Amazon warehouse. In the attempt from 2021, the union was not able to attain 40% of signatures from the workers which was required for a vote under labour laws of Alberta.
With the same certification as Alberta, at Ontario, Teamsters Local 879 is in the early stages of a workers’ organising at Hamilton’s Mountain warehouse. Moreover, the local is leafleting outside fulfilment centres, promising a ‘Canada-wide’ effort at Kitchener, London, Cambridge and Milton. Reportedly, this in response to complaints about less breaks and cuts during time off.
Concerned journalists reported how Amazon’s anti-union tactics in Niksu was somewhat similar to Montreal. These included TV screens in the warehouse, along with distribution of leaflets conveying the message. Along with signs in multiple languages for immigrant and racialised employees to understand and take a step.
Unlike the first unionised Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, the union organiser at Niksu admitted that they did not have ‘anybody on the inside’ which contributed to the defeat at this Amazon warehouse.