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How big unions smooth the way for Amazon worker protests

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Warehouse employees last month staged a walkout in Michigan to demand safer working conditions at their facility. So did workers in New York, Illinois and Minnesota.

These and other Amazon.com Inc employees across the country are seizing on the coronavirus to demand the world’s largest online retailer offer more paid sick time and temporarily shut warehouses with infections for deep cleaning.

Employees in at least 11 states this year have voiced their concerns and staged actions to highlight a variety of purported workplace deficiencies, allegations the company has denied.

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Supporting these Amazon workers are labor groups and unions eager to penetrate the Seattle-based behemoth after years of failed attempts to unionize its operations.

Reuters spoke with 16 unions and labor groups targeting Amazon. They included established organizations such as the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), as well as newer worker advocacy groups like Warehouse Workers for Justice and Athena, a coalition of labor and social justice groups that have criticized Amazon’s business practices.

Most unions acknowledged their long odds at organizing Amazon using traditional tactics such as holding […]

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