Segment on union busting from John Oliver rips Amazon and tactics other companies use

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Amazon is in the crosshairs again during a new segment on union busting from “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

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The HBO show took on the tech giant as part of a lengthy explainer on the strategy companies work to discourage workers from unionizing.

Among jabs at Amazon, Oliver pointed to a “leaked internal video” from Amazon instructing its managers on the warning signs to watch out for when it comes to a potential union event. Obvious signs include the use of words like “living wage” or “reserves,” the animated video says.


Oliver said in response to the clip, “Set aside that the phrase ‘living wedge’ has to be taken off completely like the first warning sign of a stroke,” adding that it was “an enormous amount of pressure” on Amazon and others. It’s worth noting that companies can put pressure on employees who are considering organizing.

Amazon successfully backed a unionization effort by a retail, wholesale and department store union in Bessemer, Ala., to organize about 6,000 warehouse workers last spring. A report a few months later by a hearing official from the National Labor Relations Board said Amazon had stepped outside acceptable guidelines and put undue pressure on workers against unionizing, and said the election should be rescheduled.

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Oliver’s segment comes just days after Amazon employees at a Staten Island, NY, fulfillment center Withdrew the petition to hold union elections After failing to collect enough signatures from the workers.

Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks was also called out by Oliver on Sunday’s show because it’s also running workers trying to organize Buffalo, NY. in the cafe

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