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Teamsters Approve Plan to Organize Amazon Workers Nationwide (1)

June 24, 2021, 6:13 PM; Updated: June 24, 2021, 8:35 PM

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters overwhelmingly approved a resolution at its convention to organize Amazon.com Inc. workers nationwide, signaling a desire to launch a wide-ranging effort to target one of the fastest-growing U.S. employers.

The resolution—approved by 99% percent of delegates—calls for forming a vast network of alliances among union locals, joint councils, and the Teamsters international headquarters. It proposes the creation of a division dedicated solely to organizing Amazon, a monumental task but one that many Teamsters officials see as essential to the union’s future.

“For decades to come this will be our most formidable opponent,” Sean O’Brien, a reform candidate for Teamsters general president, said during floor debate. “Politically, regardless of where we stand, this has got to be the top priority.”

The resolution approved Thursday is largely aspirational. Success will depend on whether Teamsters leadership can carry out the strategy envisioned on paper, which will require coordinating scores of semi-autonomous local chapters with different leaders and priorities.

Delegates at the convention, held once every five years, also elected candidates to appear on the general election ballot in November. The two front runners for general president—O’Brien and Steve Vairma, an ally of outgoing Teamsters head James P. Hoffa—easily passed the 5% threshold to appear on ballot, with O’Brien leading Varima 841 delegates to 765.

The Amazon resolution was among more than three dozen passed by Teamsters delegates, including measures related to Covid-19 safety and protecting against job losses due to automation.

With assistance from Dan Papscun

(Updated in 5th graph with voting results; assist line added)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Kullgren in Washington at ikullgren@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Lauinger at jlauinger@bloomberglaw.com; Travis Tritten at ttritten@bgov.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com

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