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Revolution on Wheels: Amazon Delivery Drivers Take a Stand in Historic Strike
According to Motherboard’s story on Thursday, Amazon delivery personnel in Palmdale, California, have reportedly gone on strike, a first for the company. The drivers are calling for more pay and safer working conditions after organizing with the Teamsters in April and receiving recognition from Amazon’s “Delivery Service Partner” (DSP) Battle-Tested Strategies in May. On Thursday, the 84 striking workers left their jobs.
Amazon #Teamsters in Palmdale, CA are walking out today in the fight for good jobs at Amazon.
— Teamsters (@Teamsters) June 15, 2023
The headline of the initial Motherboard piece was “Amazon Delivery Drivers Walk Out in First-Ever Driver Strike.” After that, an Amazon official wrote the publication an email requesting it modify its headline. From the story on Motherboard:
“I’m writing to ask if you’d be open to updating your headline of the story you just posted,” the spokesperson wrote. “It reads that these drivers are ‘Amazon drivers’ and that is inaccurate given they are employed by Battle-Tested Strategies. Would you update the headline to read ‘drivers delivering for Amazon’?”
However, although not formally employing these individuals, Amazon maintains significant control over them because contractors run most. In addition to requiring its drivers to consent to AI surveillance to be hired, the company has strictly regulated what its drivers can look like and post online. This goes beyond that. They frequently drive delivery trucks wrapped in Amazon’s artwork and wear Amazon clothing.
In early May, the union filed unfair labour allegations with the National Labor Relations Board, criticizing Amazon’s practice of assisting people in establishing delivery logistics businesses that are then solely contracted with Amazon:
Although these drivers wear Amazon uniforms, drive Amazon trucks, identify themselves as Amazon employees, are continuously monitored and surveilled by Amazon managers, and receive their work assignments from Amazon, Amazon has attempted to legally separate itself from these employees through a sham “Delivery Service Partner” (“DSP”) structure. Under this DSP structure, Amazon finds individuals—often with little to no experience running businesses—and purports to help those individuals “start” businesses, all while selling them a false fantasy.
The complaint also notes that Amazon supplies branded vehicles and uniforms establishes goals and requirements, fires employees at will, and does much more. The dossier claims that Battle-Tested Strategies works out of DAX8, an Amazon-owned facility, along with three other “similarly captive” DSPs.
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The conditions the drivers must endure are also described in the letter, including travelling in the desert’s “inhumane heat” without air conditioning when temperatures reach 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Drivers who spoke with Motherboard about the vans cited indoor temperatures of 130 degrees or higher as feeling “like walking into an oven.”
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Such circumstances are typical in the delivery industry. Last week, the Teamsters, representing over 340,000 drivers, won a tentative agreement to equip all UPS’s small package delivery cars with air conditioning. In 2021, the Teamsters adopted a resolution to support organizing Amazon employees. Battle Hardened Solutions was the first team of drivers and dispatchers to join since then.
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