Detroit Amazon Workers Organize for Respect with APWU

January 8, 2024

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Amazon workers in Detroit’s DTW1 plant are working with APWU organizers for a real voice, power, and justice in the workplace.

In April 2022, an Amazon worker reached out to APWU organizers after seeing a National Labor Relations Board-mandated poster on union rights. Almost two years later, with the support of the APWU, workers at DTW1 have one of the strongest organizing committees in the country. Over 450 workers wear union shirts, building the strength and courage of their coworkers, on three union gear days every week.

On Cyber Monday, forty DTW1 workers marched on the boss to present demands for the company to stop union-busting and respect their union rights. They also raised the company’s disregard of doctor ordered medical accommodations.

“We all met up at 3 o’clock and marched to the main office,” said organizing committee member Marc Tourangeau. “We demanded that they treat us fairly; that they recognize that we’re forming a union; that they stop intimidating us and that they abide by our accommodations.”

For Denise Jones, respect is a major issue. “Management does not respect us; we will gain respect with our union. We will have a better quality of life and be able to hold management accountable. We’d have a real voice and power,” she said.

In 2023, Amazon became the country’s largest private-sector package company, and second-largest overall only to the public USPS. Despite intense union-busting tactics from management, many of the one million U.S.-based Amazon workers are organizing their workplaces. DTW1 is just one of several locations where the APWU private sector organizing team is engaged.

The 2022 Biennial National Convention built on the work of previous conventions, committing the APWU to a multi-union campaign to organize the retail giant.

A number of labor organizations are also helping workers organize at Amazon, including the 2022 Amazon Labor Union (ALU) victory at JFK8 in New York, the ongoing retail workers’ union (RWDSU) election in Bessemer, AL, and scores of organizing committees around the country with the Teamsters, ALU, RWDSU, Amazonians United, United for Respect, and many labor centers.

For APWU’s Lead Organizer, Rich Shelley, the case for organizing is clear. “Every union has the moral obligation to organize the unorganized; to sustain and build the labor movement,” he said. “Amazon is now the biggest corporation in our industry, and the more we unionize the industry, the more power we all have. We must help our sisters and brothers at Amazon, and beyond, if we are going to sustain our wages, benefits, and union rights for ourselves, our children, and grandchildren.”

“We are organizing to get a living wage for our families,” said Jesse Forchione, who works at the DTW1 facility. “We want to provide for a decent life for our families and a safe workplace.”

For Amazon worker LaTasha Fuller, it’s not just a struggle for a union, it’s a struggle for her future: “We want a better way of life, it is a struggle without a union.” ■

How can you help organize Amazon?

Talk to family, friends, or neighbors who work at Amazon; let them know the benefi ts of a union contract. Be specific about some of the things that you appreciate about your union and contract. Ask them if they deserve good wages and benefi ts, paid vacation and sick leave, and a retirement plan, too.

If they think they do, get them in contact with an APWU organizer at (202) 503-9415 on how to Build Union Power in the Private Sector. or scan this QR code.

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