Amazon delivery drivers become the first to unionize in California

The Teamsters announced on Monday that a group of Amazon drivers and delivery workers in Southern California have joined the union and negotiated a tentative contract with their employer, which would be a first for the online retailer’s delivery network.

The 84 workers are employed by Battle-Tested Strategies, one of Amazon’s “delivery service partners” that handles last-mile deliveries for Amazon. The Teamsters said the group, which works at Amazon’s DAX8 facility in Palmdale, near Los Angeles, is the first of Amazon’s roughly 3,000 DSPs to form a union and negotiate an agreement.

Battle-Tested Strategies and Amazon did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

The Teamsters said Battle-Tested Strategies agreed to voluntarily recognise the union rather than force an election. The union also said it had negotiated a contract with the company and that workers had asked Amazon to comply with the terms of that agreement.

“We deliver in an Amazon van, wearing an Amazon uniform, but when we petition Amazon, they ignore us.”

– Driver Rajpal Singh

Amazon’s DSP drivers drive around in Amazon-branded vehicles delivering Amazon products to Amazon customers, but technically they don’t work for Amazon – they work for contractors like Battle-Tested Strategies.

In a statement circulated by the union, Rajpal Singh, a DSP driver at DAX8, said he wanted more accountability from Amazon when it comes to working conditions for subcontracted drivers.

“We deliver in an Amazon van, wear an Amazon uniform, but when we petition Amazon, we are ignored,” Singh said. “We have a lot of support, we are a union, and now they have to listen to us.”

Amazon’s delivery drivers do not technically work for Amazon.

Unions like the Teamsters have been working to organize Amazon’s vast delivery network, which includes not only drivers but also warehouse workers and packers – part of the company’s huge US workforce of about 1 million. Organizing Amazon is crucial for the Teamsters because Amazon has the power to influence wages and working conditions across the logistics sector.

Last year, the Teamsters announced the formation of a new Amazon branch within the union as part of their plan to gain a foothold with the retail tycoon.

Randy Korgan, the head of that division, said in a statement on Monday that DAX8 drivers would join the union to “demand more from this company, including good wages, safe working conditions and respect.”

The union said drivers will vote in the coming weeks on whether to accept the tentative contract agreement with Battle-Tested Strategies. Although the union did not provide details, it said the agreement includes “immediate wage increases” and “provisions that hold Amazon accountable to health and safety standards.”

If the contract brings significant improvements over workers’ current conditions, it could help the Teamsters organize drivers at other sites.

The newly formed Amazon Labor Union became the first workers’ group to unionize an Amazon facility when it won an election at the JFK8 warehouse in New York City last spring. The union is now trying to negotiate a first collective agreement with the company.

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