“The excitement and energy this time is very different inside the facility and out,” said Jennifer Bates, one of the worker-leaders involved in last year’s union drive at the Bessemer facility.

Luis Feliz Leon, The Real News Network

Amazon warehouse worker Isaiah Thomas is a certified troublemaker, a term meant to be disparaging that workers have reclaimed and redefined to celebrate courage and militancy. He got a slap on the wrist from Amazon management in January for talking to coworkers about the benefits of building a union, in violation of the company’s solicitation policy.

“While we understand your activity may have occurred during your break time, you were interfering with fellow associates during their working time, in their work areas,” the warning letter reads.

amazon boxes sad faces

At captive-audience meetings, workers are required to sit and listen to Amazon’s highly paid anti-union consultants launch scorched-earth speeches replete with lies, distortions, and fear-mongering. Thomas was inoculated against these tactics—and he let the consultants know it. When one consultant tried to paint the union as an outside “third party” that would get between workers and management—presumably sullying Amazon’s world-renowned worker-manager relations—Thomas countered: “That’s not true. A union is us workers, bargaining with management.”

He said workers in the meeting would then look up “What is a union?” on their phones. Then they would turn to the consultants and ask: “Why are you lying to us?”

“Then, the union-buster would get upset and practically kick us out,” Thomas says. He remembers one consultant saying, “Well, we have another meeting coming up,’’ to which Thomas replied, “Well, you didn’t even finish the PowerPoint.”

Dale Wyant, who works in the warehouse’s stowing department, described one anti-union consultant telling him that collective bargaining couldn’t guarantee workers an increase in pay but that they could go and talk to managers, despite not having collective bargaining rights.

“If I go to HR right now and ask them, ‘Hey, I believe that I’m working in a middle-class job, and I deserve middle-class wages,’ are they going to bargain with me one-on-one or send me back to my job?” Wyant asked.

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