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New York magazine has a piece about how the Teamsters, at the brink of a new era of leadership, seems to have one major goal (though different opinions about how to achieve it) - unionizing Amazon.

According to the story, "The Teamsters think they can succeed where other unions have failed. A formidable union, they represent 1.4 million members in the U.S. and Canada. While the archetypal Teamster in the public imagination likely drives a truck, the union’s ranks include public defenders, funeral directors, and zookeepers. An increasing number of Teamsters are women and people of color, and they have big dreams for their union when it comes to Amazon. Over the summer, Teamsters overwhelmingly approved a resolution to organize Jeff Bezos’s conglomerate and in September, Teamsters Canada filed for the union’s first election at an Amazon warehouse in Alberta. Were a union to organize Amazon, it would transform working conditions for the company’s massive workforce, which is among the nation’s largest."

The priority comes at an interesting time for the Teamsters, the story notes:  "There has been a Hoffa at the head of the Teamsters for 37 of the past 64 years. James R. Hoffa presided over the union from 1957 until 1971, a few years before his infamous disappearance. His son, James P. Hoffa, took over as president in 1998 and is now set to retire, launching a major contest for the future of the storied union."

There are two leadership slates vying for the top job at the Teamsters, but they have different opinions about how tio achieve that goal.  One side, the slate that has been e endorsed by current leadership, believes that the union's depth and breadth and diversity will create a more organic approach to unionization at Amazon;  the other slate is creating a kind of insurgency approach, believing higher levels of militancy and aggression are what's needed to take on Amazon's formidable anti-union forces.


KC's View:

Either way, it sounds like Amazon potentially is going to have a more pitched battle on its hands, however this turns out.

The feeling seems to be that the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDU), which has been working to organize an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, may have been playing small ball.  (To be fair, the RWDU was defeated in the election, but was able to make the case successfully to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that Amazon's anti-union behavior was so egregious that a do-over was necessary.)

The Teamsters, on the other hand, seem more likely to play a more aggressive game.  Amazon still may end up being the great white whale that organized labor is unable to hunt down, but the process is going to be, if nothing else, entertaining to those of who are spectators.