每日跟讀#624: Labor’s Hard Choice in Amazon Age: Play Along or Get Tough
It’s one of the most vexing challenges facing the labor movement: how to wield influence in an era increasingly dominated by technology giants that are often resistant to unions.
Are workers best served when unions take an adversarial stance toward such companies? Or should labor groups seek cooperation with employers, even if the resulting deals do little to advance labor’s broader goals?
The debate has flared up around labor’s efforts to make inroads with the likes of Uber and Airbnb, businesses that allow drivers and homeowners to earn income as contractors. And it was on vivid display in the political battle over Amazon’s plan to create a new headquarters in New York with 25,000 jobs.
The plan fell apart in the face of a backlash over public subsidies, resentment of the covert process in which the city and the state negotiated the deal, and concern about its neighborhood impact. But labor issues were also a factor, giving rise to tensions even among unions.
In the more confrontational camp were labor groups led by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which called on the city and the state to withhold nearly $3 billion in subsidies unless Amazon established a “fair process” for its warehouse workers in the city to unionize. The retail workers said they were open to negotiating what that meant.
“I think we stood on principle,” said Stuart Appelbaum, the retail workers’ president. “If you’re aggressively anti-union, we shouldn’t be giving you subsidies.”
A company executive told the City Council in January that Amazon would not remain neutral in an organizing campaign at its local facilities, though an Amazon spokesman said last month“We respect the rights of our employees to choose to join or not join a union.”
In the engagement camp was the local council of building trade unions, whose members were likely to get work from Amazon’s Queens construction. They were joined by a Service Employees International Union local, which had gained the right to represent janitors and other service workers at the Queens complex.
“Their presence in New York — a progressive community, a union town — was eventually going to lead to some potential change down the road,” said Héctor J. Figueroa, president of the service employees local, known as 32BJ.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/338427/web/