Amazon’s investors have demanded that the retailer stop interfering with its employees’ efforts to unionise.
A group of more than 70 investors, which collectively hold around $20 billion in Amazon shares, have penned a letter calling for Amazon to end its anti-union campaign and remain neutral, according to the Financial Times.
They said that Amazon was going against its own Global Human Rights Principles, published on its website, which say it respected its employees’ rights to join and form a labour union “without fear of reprisal, intimidation or harassment”.
It comes as nearly 6000 employees Amazon employees at its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, began voting via mail on whether to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (WDSU).
While some employees in Europe belong to a union, this would mark the first time in Amazon’s history that any of its US workers had gained official representation.
Amazon has until now been successful at thwarting all organising efforts in its home country, and the result of the vote will be closely watched by the nearly 800,000 US workers it currently employs.
The online giant has been quick to denounce the action, launching a website doitwithoutdues.com which criticises the dues workers must pay to join a union.
Its website also tells workers that unionisation would mean it “won’t be easy to be as helpful and social with each other”.
Amazon has also tried to delay the vote and force members to vote in person in a booth, but both requests were denied by the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) last week.
“As these workers seek to organise with (the union) for health, safety, and protection, Amazon’s investors are watching,” New York City comptroller Scott Stringer said.
“We want workers to know we have their backs. There is power in their unity and power in labour, and they have my full support as they fight for a safe, fair workplace.”
In response, Amazon said: “We have provided education that helps employees understand the facts of joining a union. If the union vote passes, it will impact everyone at the site and it’s important associates understand what that means for them and their day-to-day life working at Amazon.”