Anti-Union Amazon Workers Explain How Mandatory Anti-Union Meetings Turned Them Against RWDSU

36-year old anti-union worker Daniel Tavaris displays anti-union flair that the company encourages workers to wear (Peter J. Callahan/Payday Report)

(Note: None of these anti-union workers that we interviewed provided by Amazon, but were meet randomly in the parking lot of the warehouse, independent of the company anti-union PR efforts. You can watch all the interviews with anti-union workers here)

While captive audience meetings are often depicted as being hostile situations, Jeremiah Okai said he found the meetings were “cool.” 

“They were cool, they were just telling us what the union did,” said 19-year-old Okai. 

It was the presentation about union dues that helped persuade him to vote against the Amazon union in Alabama.

“[The union] is going to take money away from me,” Okai said. “I don’t want no money taken away from me.”

Ashley Beringer, 32, says she found the mandatory anti-union meetings to be a bad thing.

“It’s just them, I guess, just trying to protect their, you know, their businesses,” said Beringer. 

She said she was on the fence about the union, but the mandatory anti-union meetings helped persuade her to vote against the union. 

“I guess I’m more so against it because I don’t know much about [unions], I’ve never had to deal with unions until now,” she said. 

She said she found the captive audience meetings informative and ultimately decided to vote against the union as a result. 

“I don’t want someone coming in and changing everything, especially if certain things are, you know, are good in the situation,” said Beringer. “And if [the union] comes in, I don’t know how it’s gonna be.” 

Ken Worth, 59, said that the mandatory anti-union meetings helped him reflect on his own negative experiences with unions in the past. 

“I’ve been a member of unions in the past and was actually a member of this same union,” Worth said. “I don’t really feel like they represented us well. I think that, you know, unions could do a whole lot more.” 

(Watch interviews with 4 anti-union workers here)

Across workers, especially young workers who have never dealt with a union, many are finding little reason to suddenly shift things up and bring a union into what is a good paying job. 

Many of the workers that voted against the union like 36-year-old Daniel Tavaris said that he feared a union could change what is a good situation for them where they make roughly $16 an hour — nearly $10-an-hour above the minimum wage. 

Walking by with a lanyard covered with “Vote No” pins, Tavaris said that Amazon asked him to wear the pins at work to show their opposition to the union. 

“I got this from Amazon, they’ve been giving them out,” said Tavaris. “Everybody has been wearing them.” 

In the end, Tavaris sees little need for a union. 

“I don’t really have any problem,” he said of his decision against the union at Amazon. 

Echoing the sentiments of many Amazon workers who voted against the union, Okai said, “Amazon didn’t give me no reason to support a union, I can support myself.”

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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