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Drivers, dispatchers for Amazon make history with California strike

Amazon delivery personnel are striking.
Amazon delivery personnel are on strike.

Delivery drivers and dispatchers have walked out of an Amazon partner distribution facility in Palmdale, Calif.

The 84 striking employees of Amazon delivery service partner Battle-Tested Strategies (BTS), who organized a union with Teamsters Local 396 in Los Angeles in April 2023,  says that Amazon engages in unfair labor practices and needs to bargain with the Teamsters Union to address what they characterize as low pay and dangerous working conditions.  The strike was announced in a press release from the International Brothers of Teamsters. It is the first strike by Amazon drivers in the U.S. 

After organizing with the Teamsters, the now striking workers negotiated and ratified a union contract with BTS, the first agreement covering workers in Amazon's delivery network. However, workers claim that Amazon has “absolute control” over BTS and their' terms and conditions of employment, but has refused to recognize and honor the union contract and instead engaged in unfair labor practices in violation of federal labor law.

Despite claims by the workers and Teamsters union that Amazon exercises complete control of BTS and its working conditions and therefore should directly negotiate, Motherboard reports that Amazon has said the workers are employed by BTS, which should be involved in any negotiations.

Specific allegations from the striking workers include concerns for their safety working in extreme local temperatures that can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.

"Amazon has no respect for the rule of law, the health of its workers, or the livelihood of their families," said Randy Korgan, director of the Teamsters Amazon Division. "Workers are on strike today because the only thing this corporate criminal cares about is profits. We are sending a message to Amazon that violating worker rights will no longer be business as usual."

"Amazon is attacking these 84 Teamsters and the whole community of Palmdale with its exploitative practices," said Victor Mineros, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 396. "This community deserves good jobs, and we are all on the picket line today to fight for them.”

"The back of an Amazon van feels like an oven in the summer," said Cecilia Porter, an Amazon Teamster driver, in the release. "I've felt dizzy and dehydrated, but if I take a break, I'll get a call asking why I'm behind on deliveries. We are protecting ourselves and saying our safety comes first."

In an emailed statement to Chain Store Age, Amazon spokesperson Eileen Hards said strike organizers are not accurately describing the situation.

“While we respect everyone’s right to express their opinions, the facts here are being intentionally misrepresented by the Teamsters and BTLT," said Hards. "This company has a history of underperformance and not providing a safe environment, and was notified that Amazon was ending their contract before the Teamsters got involved to try and re-write the facts.”

[Read more: Amazon warehouse workers make historic union vote]

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