"Over two decades, as the internet retailer mushroomed from a virtual bookstore into a $1.5 trillion behemoth, it forcefully — and successfully — resisted employee efforts to organize. Some workers in recent years agitated for change in Staten Island, Chicago, Sacramento and Minnesota, but the impact was negligible."
Bill Hough Jr., the machinist at the Chester warehouse who led the union drive, was fired in 2016.
"Now Amazon faces a union vote at a warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. — the largest and most viable U.S. labor challenge in its history. Nearly 6,000 workers have until March 29 to decide whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. A labor victory could energize workers in other U.S. communities, where Amazon has more than 800 warehouses employing more than 500,000 people.
“'This is happening in the toughest state, with the toughest company, at the toughest moment,' said Janice Fine, a professor of labor studies at Rutgers University. 'If the union can prevail given those three facts, it will send a message that Amazon is organizable everywhere.'
"Even if the union does not prevail, 'the history of unions is always about failing forward,' she said. 'Workers trying, workers losing, workers trying again.'
"The effort in Chester, which The Times reconstructed with documents from regulators and the machinists’ union, as well as interviews with former facilities technicians at the warehouse and union officials, offers one of the fullest pictures of what encourages Amazon workers to open the door to a union — and what techniques the company uses to slam the door and nail it shut."