Watch CBS News

Striking Teamsters picket outside Amazon facility

PIX Now - Noon 6/29/22
PIX Now - Noon 6/29/22 13:31

NEWARK - Striking Amazon drivers from a warehouse in Southern California came to the Bay Area on Thursday to picket outside a warehouse in Newark, citing unfair labor practices. 

According to a press release from the Teamsters union, drivers employed by Battle Tested Strategies, a shipping and logistics company contracted to deliver packages for Amazon in Palmdale, organized in April with Teamsters Local 396, a branch of the union that represents workers at several shipping and logistics companies in the area.

The strike began last Saturday when 84 dispatchers and drivers organized with the Teamsters who deliver packages for Amazon picketed outside one of the e-commerce company's facilities in Palmdale, demanding that Amazon recognize the union and sit down at the bargaining table to negotiate a new contract. The union says that Amazon has refused to meet with the union and all 84 unionized workers have been terminated.

Michael Lieb, a striking driver from Palmdale who was at the action in Newark, said Thursday's picket in Newark drew a crowd of 75, between striking drivers from Palmdale, members from other Teamsters local unions, and Amazon employees in Newark who refused to cross the picket line. 

"We just want benefits. There's absolutely no benefits when you sign on with Amazon. UPS has made a lot of profit in the past and they give back to their drivers," Lieb said. "Amazon is a multi-billion dollar company and they do not give anything back to the drivers if you exceed your work, or if there's very high demand in package count."

The unionized drivers extended their picket to an Amazon sorting facility in Mira Loma in Riverside County on Sunday. According to the union's press release, the proposed contract gives drivers the right to refuse unsafe deliveries and guarantees safe driving equipment for workers. During the summer, drivers at the Palmdale facility say they regularly work in extreme temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. 

"The Teamsters are being intentionally misleading and continue to promote a false narrative. Their contract is with Battle Tested Strategies, not Amazon. This gathering does not include Amazon employees and is mostly attended by outside activists," said Amazon spokesperson Eileen Hards.

Striking drivers and Teamsters representatives said that Amazon controls much of the operation of companies they partner with for deliveries, with the tech giant setting delivery routes, mandating which vehicles can be used for deliveries and enforcing strict delivery deadlines.

Amazon has influence over hiring and firing of employees at these contracted delivery companies, and new hires are required to submit to an Amazon background check, Amazon employee training and wear Amazon delivery uniforms, according to a Teamsters fact sheet.

Lieb said that he was denied a raise when Amazon, which provides funds to Battle Tested Strategies to pay employee salaries, did not approve Lieb's manager's request for more money.

According to the Teamsters, the strike action that began in Palmdale on Saturday is the first multi-day indefinite strike at an Amazon facility, and the first to extend their picket line. The union said the workers are prepared to continue the strike until the 84 terminated workers are reinstated and their demands are met. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.