LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Employees at an Amazon facility in rural Campbellsville, Kentucky are working to organize a union.
If employees come to a vote in favor of a union, it would be the first successful local union for Amazon outside of New York.
That union was a milestone for labor advocates, who for years have considered Amazon's labor practices a threat to workers.
Matt Littrell, 22, has worked at the facility for close to a year and a half. He said he is working with the Amazon Labor Union on organization efforts.
“A union would hold Amazon accountable for our conditions and well being," Littrell said.
Kentucky has about a dozen Amazon fulfillment and sorting facilities.
Littrell hopes a union will bring consistency and accountability for things like temperatures in warehouses and keeping storage bins from becoming overly full. He also wants to see employees paid more when they take on new duties.
“A safer working environment, we would have employees be compensated for working and learning more jobs," Littrell said.
In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson wrote:
“Our employees have the choice of whether or not to join a union. They always have. As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees. Our focus remains on working directly with our team to continue making Amazon a great place to work.”
The efforts come as Amazon holds its annual "Prime Day," discounting thousands of items and expecting massive sales.
Littrell said that places even more strain on employees in Campbellsville.
“They made their on click but they don’t realize what’s going on in the background to get that to their house," he said. “At our facility it’s an old site, it’s manual labor, you’re walking 20 miles a night. And that’s rough.”
Littrell said he is in the process of gathering support, asking fellow employees to sign authorization cards stating they are in favor of taking a vote.
If 30% of employees sign off on a petition or authorization cards, the National Labor Relations Board will hold an election.
If a majority of employees then vote "yes" to unionizing, Amazon would have to negotiate with a union representative on employment terms and contracts.
“We want more than 30% just to shore up support," Littrell said. “Without a union contract, anything you win, any kind of improvements can be taken away.”