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B.C. labour board to consider union votes at 2 Amazon warehouses

The B.C. Labour Relations Board will consider certifying unions at two Amazon warehouses in a hearing Tuesday.

Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, began a card-signing drive last summer citing labour laws favourable to unions in the province.

If certified, Unifor says, this would be the first successful unionization effort for Amazon workplaces in Canada.

Unifor western director Gavin McGarrigle said “hundreds and hundreds” of workers in Delta and New Westminster have signed since their campaign began. McGarrigle did not specify what percentage of workers signed, however.

Gavin McGarrigle with Unifor said “hundreds and hundreds” of Amazon workers at the two Lower Mainland warehouses expressed their desire for collective bargaining during the card drive. (Martin Diotte/CBC)

“We’re not going to tip our hand to Amazon. We’ll make those arguments to the labour board,” McGarrigle said, explaining the board would contact Amazon to verify employee numbers and compare that to the number of signed cards.

“We believe we’ve got a strong majority,” he said. “We know there are hundreds of workers in both of these warehouses that are just begging for the chance to get to the bargaining table.”

Under B.C. labour rules, amended in 2022, if at least 55 per cent of workers in a workplace sign union cards, the union will be automatically certified.

But if the number of workers signing represents 45 to 55 per cent of the workforce, a secret ballot will be called in order to certify the union.

McGarrigle said workers in B.C. have complained of low pay, overwork and dangerous conditions at Amazon.

In Canada, some former Amazon employees have told CBC News that they were fired for trying to organize their colleagues.

In an email, Amazon said employees have always had the choice of whether or not they wish to join a union.

“The fact is, Amazon already offers what many unions are requesting: safe and inclusive workplaces, competitive pay, health benefits on day one, and opportunities for career growth,” senior PR manager Barbara M. Agrait wrote. 

“We look forward to working with our employees to continue making Amazon a great place to work.”

In 2022, workers in New York formed the first American Amazon union.

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