Amazon Delivery Drivers In California Join Teamsters

The 84 drivers and dispatchers work for one of Amazon’s contractors, but Amazon said the firm is already in the process of losing its contract.

The Teamsters said Monday that a group of Amazon drivers and dispatchers in Southern California have joined the union and negotiated a tentative contract with their employer, an Amazon contractor, in what would be a first for the online retailer’s delivery network.

But Amazon said it had already notified the company that it was losing its contract with the retail giant.

The 84 workers are employed by Battle-Tested Strategies, one of Amazon’s “delivery service partners” that handles last-mile deliveries for Amazon. The Teamsters said the group, which works out of Amazon’s DAX8 facility in Palmdale, near Los Angeles, is the first of Amazon’s roughly 3,000 DSPs to form a union and negotiate an agreement.

“This particular third party company had a track record of failing to perform and had been notified of its termination for poor performance well before today’s announcement,” Eileen Hards, an Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement. “This situation is more about an outside company trying to distract from their history of failing to meet their obligations.”

Battle-Tested Strategies did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

The Teamsters said Battle-Tested Strategies had agreed to voluntarily recognize the union. The union also said it had hashed out a contract with the company, and that workers had called on Amazon to “honor the conditions” of that agreement ― although Amazon won’t have to if it no longer has a relationship with Battle-Tested Strategies.

“We deliver in an Amazon van, wearing an Amazon uniform, but when we petition Amazon, they ignore us.”

- Driver Rajpal Singh

Amazon’s DSP drivers ride around in Amazon-branded vehicles and deliver Amazon products to Amazon customers, but they technically do not work for Amazon ― they work for contractors like Battle-Tested Strategies.

In a statement distributed by the union, one DSP driver at DAX8, Rajpal Singh, said he wants more accountability from Amazon when it comes to working conditions for subcontracted drivers.

“We deliver in an Amazon van, wearing an Amazon uniform, but when we petition Amazon, they ignore us,” Singh said. “We have a mass of support, we are a union, and now they need to listen.”

Amazon's delivery drivers technically do not work for Amazon.
Amazon's delivery drivers technically do not work for Amazon.
UCG via Getty Images

Unions including the Teamsters have struggled to organize Amazon’s massive delivery network, which includes not just drivers but warehouse pickers and packers ― part of the company’s huge U.S. workforce that numbers roughly 1 million. Organizing Amazon is crucial for the Teamsters since Amazon has the power to impact wages and working conditions throughout the logistics industry.

Last year, the Teamsters announced the creation of a new Amazon division inside the union, part of its plan to make inroads at the retail juggernaut.

Randy Korgan, the director of that division, said in a statement Monday that the DAX8 drivers were joining the union to “demand more from this company, including good wages, safe working conditions, and respect.”

The union said the drivers would be voting on whether to accept their tentative contract agreement with Battle-Tested Strategies in the coming weeks. Although it did not release details, the union said the agreement includes “immediate pay increases” and “provisions that hold Amazon accountable on health and safety standards.”

The upstart Amazon Labor Union became the first labor group to unionize an Amazon facility when it won an election at the JFK8 warehouse in New York City last spring. The union is now trying to negotiate a first collective bargaining agreement with the company.

This story has been updated with comment from Amazon.

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