Amazon Labor Union Organizing Drive in Inland Empire
By Mark Friedman
Bolstered with supporters from Los Angles, Amazon Labor Union organizers held a successful information distribution at the Amazon ONT8 warehouse during shift change in Moreno Valley Wednesday, December 14.
Activists from the LA Tenants Union, ILWU/IBU members, other unionists and Hands Off Cuba committee members assisted the ALU organizers. Also participating was ALU president, Chris Smalls who has been centrally involved in assisting these local organizers.
Kit Lau, a member of LA MAS and the LA Tenants Union told RL “I’m here today to support ALU ONT8’s union drive and learn how the tenant’s movement can support the labor movement and struggle against shared enemies. Collective bargaining tactics have in the past been used by organized tenants to prevent displacement and preserve affordable housing.”
A statement was sent to the ALU from Michael Vera Patrolman – Business Agent, Inland Boatmen’s Union of the Pacific, Southern California Region, Marine Division ILWU.
The Inland Boatmen’s Union of the Pacific, Southern California Region proudly stands in solidarity with the workers of ONT 8 in their efforts to unionize under the umbrella of the Amazon Labor Union. We applaud the courage and fortitude of Nannette Plascencia and all the workers who are fighting for dignity and respect. The power of workers lies with solidarity. Together in solidarity the workers at ONT 8 will win their right to collectively bargain fair wages and conditions and the security they deserve. We denounce the union busting tactics and intimidation used by Amazon managers as example of corporate greed stepping on the values of the American worker.
The Inland Boatmen’s Union of the Pacific is resolved to fight with you and all workers. Stand strong ONT 8! We stand with you!”
A similar solidarity statement was also distributed to Amazon workers from John Skow, regional Director.
Reporter: I am here with Nannette Plascencia, lead organizer for the Amazon Labor Union in Moreno Valley, California, where an organizing drive is taking place among the 1000s of Amazon workers here.
She has been the central organizer for several years; her interviews appeared in Random Lengths, LA Progressive, amd World-Outlook. Today, they will be distributing fact sheets and holiday treats to workers coming in and out at shift change.
Reporter: Nannette, can you please tell us the latest developments with the organizing effort?
Nannette: Sure. What we’re doing right now is just getting information from the pamphlets we created into our coworkers. So, they can know the truth about how better it would be if we unionize, to have a voice to demand, better pay and benefits that we all want at Amazon. Right now, we’re actually fighting against a firm that’s been hired by Amazon to come into the warehouse and tell us how we don’t need a union and how potentially hurtful it could be if we unionized.
So, there’s a lot of negative talk going around from the people that Amazon hired. But we’re all here today to give the correct information to our coworkers, and let them know that actually our power lies in unionizing. We hope that our coworkers will stop by to talk to us for a little bit. And if they have any questions about the union, we can answer them. Chris Smalls, the President of the ALU came in from NY to participate in this effort and answer any questions workers have.
And if they would like to sign an authorization card, that would be great, because right now we’re trying to add on to the number of authorization cards already signed, so we can hit that 30%. So that’s our goal right now.
Reporter: What are some of the major issues that workers are discussing, that are moving them in the direction of organizing?
Nannette: Some of the issues are, of course, the number one issue is pay, they feel that they deserve more pay for the hard work they do there. And on top of that, they feel that they deserve bonuses, for all the products that we get out of our warehouse. They feel that they should have bonuses on top of the profits that Amazon gets from our hard work and benefits. They feel that should be better than what we have. We feel that we have the bare minimum on benefits, especially healthcare and we want to have a say in what kind of
health care and better benefits we want. As well as standard working procedures in every department, we want to have a say in those standards.
Reporter: The company that Amazon has contracted to try and break the union organizing drive, what types of activities are they carrying out inside the plant?
Nannette: Right now, they send us text messages about the union. They say…how do you know that the union would even be any good to help you, they’re new, so they don’t have any other workplaces that they unionize. So how do you know that they know what to do for a worker.
Also, they put that information in a flyer, and put it on all our break tables and then on top of that they also send us text messages. And they tell us that we could lose our benefits if we’re unionized and we have to start all over to negotiate benefits. And they also put it on our TV screens. At the individual or group meetings where management talks about authorization cards and how we have to protect our information, because anybody could come to our house and talk to us if we give our information signing the authorization card.
And that a card could be a legal binding contract, where the government will have all our information. They also have a team that walks around our workstations and ask us questions about what we think we need improvement on or how do we feel about working here?
What changes we would like? And then if we have union questions, we can ask them too. That’s what they tell us and they go around all day in every department for day shift and night shift talking to every worker.
Reporter: On October 29 you came to LA and had an informal meeting with members of the international longshore and warehousemen’s union, the Inland Boatmen’s Union, the Palestinian Youth movement, the US Hands Off Cuba committee, the LA Tenants Union. I know some of those folks are out here today in solidarity with you, supporting the unionization effort. What other solidarity has come in?
Nannette: We have had a lot of people, different communities that come out and help and college students as well. We say, anybody who wants to come down and help us, because we feel that when they say it takes a village to create a union. So, we all have to work together to unionize workers.
So, the more help the better, because that shows strength in numbers I feel. And it also helps people who are trying to organize their workplace, it gives them that confidence, and support that they need to go up against Amazon. You know, it’s like David and Goliath, we need that backup, to fight Goliath. And when anybody comes out here to help us, any kind of activist, any kind of community member, it doesn’t matter who you are, we want everybody to come here.
Reporter: Are there any specific things that people can do to help you because this interview will be read and posted by a lot of trade unionists and others? Do you have a website they could go? Can they make a financial contribution? What would you ask of people who support this organizing effort?
Nannette: We do have an Instagram account. It’s called UnionforAmazon. People could go on there; and we try to post information regularly. Or people can ask questions if they like, and we can get back to them. We use Instagram a lot for organizing. So that’s a great start if they want to get in contact with us. And on top of that, if anybody just wants to come out and help us, that’s our main thing.
We love when people come out here and help us hand out information. Our main goal is getting information into workers hands.
Reporter: Has there been any harassment of you or other ALU organizers inside the plant?
Nanette: I will say yes, there have been personal attacks on a bulletin board called Voices of Amazon. where workers can post things. You used to have to post your name when you left messages, but they changed it but now you can post anonymously. Once they started that there was some harassment going on, messages against me. o that has been the harassment that I’ve thought inside Amazon so far.
Reporter: Thank you, Nannette. We stand with you in this very important organizing drive. Good luck. Do you have a timetable when you hope to file more signature cards and any plans for when you think you might be ready for a vote?
Nannette: My time is as soon as possible. So that’s what we’re working on right now. And the more signature cards we get, the better. I hope that it’s coming up soon, and I can’t wait. Thank you.
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org GoFundMe link: https://gofund.me/cfd8219f