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The Amazon Union Vote: A Lesson in Employee Engagement (and What NOT to Do)


WOW! I literally cringed while reading this story about the recent missteps at Amazon which led to a union at one of their largest and most important NY warehouses.


At the beginning of the pandemic, employees were concerned about workplace safety. After all, remote work was not an option.


An employee, Christian Smalls, organized a small protest. Amazon 𝗳𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 him (later they had him 𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗱). Then they formed a '𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺', assigned an '𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿' (seriously!!), and followed a '𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗲 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘆𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸'.


Instead of listening to their employees' concerns, they executed a 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗹 leadership style reminiscent of a military operation meeting a hostile force.


Ladies and gentlemen of Amazon, this leadership approach went out of style in the 1970's. Yes, I understand that hardball tactics are a normal part of fighting a union, but times have changed.


Focus on your people!


Meet their needs so that they can meet yours.


One 9-year employee said she was "not a “union fan” but voted for the organizing effort to send a message to a company that she felt had lost its connection to workers. “The humanity at Amazon is gone”.


Yes. This. 👆🏼


✔ Let's talk 'with' our employees, not 'at' them.

✔ Let's work to fully understand what's getting in the way of them doing their job successfully, and in this case, safely.

✔ Let's stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and solve issues together.


Oh, and interesting sidenote - Amazon's General Counsel, (!!!!) said Christian Smalls was 'not smart or articulate' in a widely circulated email. 🤦🤦🤦


Well, that unintelligent and inarticulate employee just led Amazon workers to one of the most significant labor victories in a generation, in spite of Amazon spending over $4M on anti-union consultants alone. Amazon will now be living with the consequences for years to come.

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