Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Workers at Amazon’s Largest Air Hub in the World are Mobilizing for a Union

Workers at the national air hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) of Amazon are mobilizing to unionize the facility and demanding $30 per hour in starting wages and other benefits.

The organizing committee says it wants to affiliate with one of the national unions attempting to organize workers at the massive online retailer which has a history of aggressively opposing unionization efforts at its fulfillment centers.

Airport employees demand more flexible working hours, union representation at disciplinary hearings, and 180 hours of paid time off without a cap. They claim that it is getting harder to make ends meet due to rising inflation and that management selectively enforces workplace policies in an effort to intimidate employees.

“We’re working to live, not living to work. Amazon’s annual turnover rate is 150% because we’re running ground support equipment (GSE), supervising planeside operations, and training our co-workers without a real pay incentive. We deserve to be paid for those responsibilities and have time off for ourselves and our families,” one of the group’s leaders, Steven Kelley, said in a story on the Socialist Alternative website.

In a Twitter post, an Amazon employee from the Unionize Amazon KCVG group stated that the top-paid unionized workers at DHL Express’ nearby hub at CVG are paid $35.51 per hour. According to Cincinnati TV station WCPO, starting pay at DHL’s facility is between $20 and $23 per hour.

The largest facility in the United States, the CVG hub in Hebron, Kentucky, processes a sizable amount of freight for Amazon’s network. Because a significant portion of Amazon’s logistics operation depends on dependable express air service, its crucial role as a distribution hub for e-commerce shipments across the nation may give organizers more clout than at a local warehouse.

According to the group attempting to form a union at the CVG air hub, Amazon informed workers that they would not receive the traditional $2-per-hour “peak pay” incentive for extra work during the busy holiday season. Members also called the company’s 40-cent-per-hour cost-of-living increase, ‘insulting.’ The dissatisfaction with pay levels is exacerbated by Amazon’s stock buybacks and by the fact that founder Jeff Bezos is one of the world’s richest people.

Amazon’s CVG airport employees also reported that management assigned them a weekly mandatory overtime shift from Nov. 27 to Dec. 23 with only three weeks’ notice, leaving many workers scrambling to find alternative childcare, second jobs, and schooling.