Retail giant Amazon on Tuesday responded to claims by International Brotherhood of Teamsters that drivers for the e-tail company have joined the union, calling them “intentionally misleading.”
The union issued a press release on Monday with the headline "Amazon Drivers Join Teamsters Union, Reach Agreement in Historic Victory,” but Amazon spokeswoman Eileen Hards said in an email to Winsight Grocery Business that the 84 drivers, who work at the DAX8 facility in the suburban Los Angeles city of Palmdale, California, are not Amazon employees but are drivers for Battle-Tested Partners, a delivery company that contracts with Amazon.
Hards added that the company had been terminated by Amazon prior to the announcement for “poor performance.”
"Amazon workers are joining the Teamsters to demand more from this company, including good wages, safe working conditions, and respect," said Randy Korgan, Teamsters Amazon division director and Teamsters Joint Council 42 director of organizing, in a statement. "The Teamsters are coordinating nationwide with Amazon workers, allies committed to holding this corporation accountable, and our union's 1.2 million members to make sure Amazon provides the benefits and protections that working people deserve."
In response to the press release, Hards stated: “Whether the Teamsters are being intentionally misleading or they just don’t understand our business, the narrative they're spreading is false. This group does not work for Amazon.”
Kara Deniz, a spokesperson for the Teamsters, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Teamsters noted in their press release Monday that the drivers “won neutrality and voluntary union recognition to join Local 396 in Los Angeles.” The union added that Local 396 and Joint Council 42 have a tentative agreement with the new union members “which will be voted on by the members in the coming weeks ...”
That tentative agreement includes increased pay, heightened safety standards, hourly raises in the fall, a grievance procedure and other benefits. The full details of the agreement will be available upon ratification by the union vote, the press release noted.
The press release was issued the same day union workers rallied at the Amazon facility in Palmdale. “We want fair pay and safe jobs, to be able to provide food for our families. We want to know we will make it home to our families at night after delivering Amazon packages in the extreme heat," said Rajpal Singh, an Amazon driver in Palmdale, in the union statement. "We organized with the Teamsters to change our working conditions for the better."
Singh added: "We deliver in an Amazon van, wearing an Amazon uniform, but when we petition Amazon, they ignore us. We have a mass of support, we are a union, and now they need to listen."
Hards noted in Amazon’s response that the company’s network of drivers is made up of thousands of small businesses who provide the service for the company. "This particular third-party company had a track record of failing to perform and had been notified of its termination for poor performance well before today’s announcement,” Hards said. “This situation is more about an outside company trying to distract from their history of failing to meet their obligations.”