Amazon Canada, according to its website, is the largest online retailer in the country. Customers can shop for ‘millions of items’ that are delivered to them within days of purchase. It is an industry power house that continues to dominate the retail landscape. Sales have increased at record rates for Canadian businesses shipping through Amazon over the past fiscal year.
Amazon’s mission statement is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company”. In light of this statement and given the evidence of record growth, it seems clear that the company is thriving in the achievement of that mission.
All is not so rosy, however, on the employee and labour relations side of Amazon Canada’s growth ledger.
Since 2017, Amazon Canada has been facing allegations of numerous labour-related complaints. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Canada (UFCW Canada) has filed a complaint with the Labour Relations Board of Ontario, alleging that Amazon Canada has interfered with the legal right of employees to certify and become members of a union. UFCW Canada has claimed unfair labour practices on the part of Amazon Canada, including anti-union messaging, closing of branches and termination of employees who organized or participated in union drives in specific locations.
Furthermore, there are allegations that organizational leaders held ‘secret meetings’ in 2017 that focused on anti-union messages and practices.
As noted in both articles, these allegations of unfair labour practices are now part of the legal proceedings underway with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). If indeed the allegations are proven to be true, the OLRB may be able to impose numerous remedies which may include the reinstatement of the terminated employees and, possibly, certification as a result of management interference in a legitimate process based on the freedom and the right to unionize. If, on the other hand, the allegations are not upheld, it will be interesting to see if the union will continue in its long-term efforts to unionize Amazon Canada workers and their affiliates.
In the meantime, there is no doubt that Amazon Canada will continue in its efforts to dominate on-line shopping and delivery around the world.
- Identify the legislation in Ontario that gives employees the right to certify?
- What are the potential risks to Amazon in their stance against certification?
- How does a non-union environment benefit Amazon and its workers?
- Does the alleged anti-union stance at Amazon Canada have any impact on your on-line purchasing and shopping patterns? Explain your rationale.