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Amazon Union Vote: Labor Loss May Bring Shift in Strategy

“Everywhere they tried, they were defeated,’’ Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said of the unions. “Walmart would send teams to swamp the stores to work against a union. They are good at it.”As with Walmart, labor leaders believed it was critical to establish a foothold at Amazon, which influences pay and working conditions for millions of workers thanks to the competitive pressure it puts on rivals in industries like groceries and fashion.But the labor movement’s failure to make inroads at Walmart despite investing millions of dollars has loomed over its …

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Amazon Workers Defeat Union Effort in Alabama

Amazon beat back the most significant labor drive in its history on Friday, when a tally showed that workers at its giant warehouse in Alabama had voted decisively against forming a union.Workers cast 1,798 votes against a union, giving Amazon enough to emphatically defeat the effort. Ballots in favor of a union trailed at 738, less than 30 percent of the votes tallied, according to federal officials. The lopsided outcome at the 6,000-person warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., dealt a crushing blow to labor organizers, Democrats and their allies at a time when conditions have been ripe for unions to make advances.Amazon, …

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Garment Workers Who Lost Jobs in Pandemic Still Wait for Severance Pay

Over a crackling phone line, Ashraf Ali, a 35-year-old father in Bangladesh, described feeling suicidal and desperate to feed his family. Sokunthea Yi, in Cambodia, said she spends sleepless nights worrying about how she will pay off loans she took out to build her house. And at only 23, Dina Arviah in Indonesia said she was hopeless about her future as there were no longer any jobs in her district.All once held jobs as garment workers in factories producing clothes and shoes for companies like Nike, Walmart and Benetton. But in the last 12 months those jobs have disappeared, as major …

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Amazon Illegally Fired Activist Workers, Labor Board Finds

SEATTLE — Amazon illegally retaliated against two of its most prominent internal critics when it fired them last year, the National Labor Relations Board has determined.The employees, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, had publicly pushed the company to reduce its impact on climate change and address concerns about its warehouse workers.The agency told Ms. Cunningham and Ms. Costa that it would accuse Amazon of unfair labor practices if the company did not settle the case, according to correspondence that Ms. Cunningham shared with The New York Times.“It’s a moral victory and really shows that we are on …

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Amazon’s Clashes With Labor: Days of Conflict and Control

In recent weeks, a heated discussion about whether Amazon’s workers must urinate in bottles because they have no time to go to the bathroom — a level of control that few modern corporations would dare exercise — has raged on Twitter.“Amazon is reorganizing the very nature of retail work — something that traditionally is physically undemanding and has a large amount of downtime — into something more akin to a factory, which never lets up,” said Spencer Cox, a former Amazon worker who is writing his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Minnesota about how the company is transforming labor. “For …

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Returning to the Office Sparks Anxiety and Dread for Some

Last fall, after some of the restrictions had eased in Germany, Trivago, a travel company based in Düsseldorf, let employees work remotely three weeks of the month and then spend one week in the office. The office weeks were designed for collaboration and were treated like celebrations, with balloons hanging from the ceilings and employees plied with coffee and muffins, said Anja Honnefelder, the chief people officer and general counsel of the company.But the experiment failed, she said. “We saw that many of the people only came back for two or three days during the week because it felt …

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Contentious Union Vote at Amazon Heads to a Count

“Obviously, we want to win,” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said on Friday when he visited Alabama. “But I think a major point has already been proven. And that is that workers, even in the Deep South, are prepared to stand up and organize and fight for justice.”In Bessemer, Ala., a pro-union radio spot paid for by Black Lives Matter aired on a local R&B station, while every intersection around the warehouse has been crowded with signs. “Bama has your back! Vote union!” one read. The large building was draped in sky blue banners blaring “VOTE.” On Friday, …

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Google Aims to Be the Anti-Amazon of E-Commerce. It Has a Long Way to Go.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Google tried to copy Amazon’s playbook to become the shopping hub of the internet, with little success. Now it is trying something different: the anti-Amazon strategy.Google is trying to present itself as a cheaper and less restrictive option for independent sellers. And it is focused on driving traffic to sellers’ sites, not selling its own version of products, as Amazon does.In the last year, Google eliminated fees for merchants and allowed sellers to list their wares in its search results for free. It is also trying to make it easier for small, independent shops to …

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Amazon Walks a Political Tightrope in Its Union Fight

WASHINGTON — Amazon is aligned with the Biden administration on several fronts.It backs a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage. It has pledged to meet all the goals of the Paris climate agreement on reducing emissions. It has met with the administration to discuss how to help with the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.But a union drive at one of its warehouses in Alabama has the retailer doing a political balancing act: staying on the good side of Washington’s Democratic leaders while squashing an organizing effort that President Biden has signaled his support for.Amazon workers in Bessemer, Ala., have been …

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Organizing Gravediggers, Cereal Makers and, Maybe, Amazon Employees

A group of gravediggers in Columbus, Ohio, who just negotiated a 3 percent raise. The poultry plant that processes chicken nuggets for McDonald’s. The workers who make Cap’n Crunch in Iowa. The women’s shoe department at Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is not the largest labor union in the United States, but it may be one of the most eclectic. Its membership, totaling about 100,000 workers, seems to reach into every conceivable corner of the American economy, stretching from the cradle (they make Gerber baby food) to the grave (those cemetery workers …

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