Stockholm (NordSIP) – Folksam and Öhman sent a letter to the board of directors of Amazon at the start of February calling on the company to take concrete measures to stop interfering with its workers’ unionisation efforts. The letter is signed by 76 institutional investors worldwide, who together manage just over SEK50 trillion.
The letter was sent following repeated reports that Amazon is actively trying to prevent its employees from unionising, an act contrary to fundamental international conventions on human rights, according to Emilie Westholm, head of responsible ownership at Folksam. Engagement with the board represents an escalation after previous engagement and dialogue efforts with Amazon executives failed to yield any response, Westholm adds.
At the core of institutional investors’ demands is the ongoing campaign by Amazon’s employees in Bessemer, Alabama, USA, regarding a vote to form a union, the first such poll conducted by Amazon workers since 2014, when employees rejected such a motion.
Since Alabama employees raised the issue of forming a union in the summer of 2020, Amazon has reportedly tried to oppose the proposal in various ways, including running the website Do it without dues to discourage unionisation. The website attempts to convince workers to not support unionisation because the fees could be better used to go out for dinner or buy school supplies. Even Adams, Nash, Haskell and Sheridan – a provider of “union avoidance” and “counter union campaigns” services – recognises that “the average annual cost of union dues is $400, or about two hours of pay per month.”
Westholm also notes that beyond the fact that unionisation is a human, trade unions have throughout history played an important role in the development of democracy and the creation of prosperity. What Amazon does to improve its employees’ working conditions can make an impression far beyond the company and the same applies if they do nothing, Westholm says.
According to a report by the Verge, ballots were sent out on February 8th and need to be returned by March 29th.
Photo by Álvaro Ibáñez via Wikimedia Commons