Final Paper - Amazon Restricts Employee Unionization


Running head: AMAZON RESTRICTS 1


Amazon Restricts Employee Unionization

Reginald Whimbush

BUS670: Legal Environment

Professor Westerman

July 8, 2019

Amazon Restricts Employee Unionization

Business situation

Over the last three years, Amazon’s workforce has grown by over 100% to reach a global workforce of 613,000 employees globally. The e-commerce company also employs an additional 100,000 employees during holiday seasons (Amazon, 2019). Despite the large size of the workforce, Amazon still restricts its employees from joining or forming a union. Unions help to protect the rights of workers and maintain the required ethical standards in human resource management (Mellon & Stevens-Gooden, 2018). Unions also help organizations, especially large organizations such as Amazon, to deal with compliance and governance issues on HR management.

There are ethical issues which have been raised against Amazon’s warehouse employees’ low-retention strategy. Amazon’s corporate culture demands for the development of top-tier talent which results in the company setting unreasonably high standards. As the company works towards the deserved growth, some employees’ rights are being suppressed as a sacrifice of achieving the set goals. According to (Parish & Rohlman, 2019), Amazon records an average of 41 severe injuries annually which raises issues on working conditions in the warehouses. As of 2018, Amazon increased its average hourly employee earnings from $13.25 to $15 but eliminated stock awards and monthly bonuses (Streitfeld & Kantor, 2015). The increase was after numerous requests from employees and much criticism by different HR rights organizations. The changes have also been noted to be detrimental to long-term employees of the company because they will make less money (Roberts & Mann, 2015). Non-unionization and low-retention strategy of Amazon employees raises labor ethical and legal issues against the company’s HR management strategies.

Ethical theories


Amazon employees, just like other private sector employees, have been given the right to join labor unions by the Federal law. Amazon’s anti-union tactics can be analyzed based on the deontology ethical theory. The duty-based ethical theory will help focus on the individual rights and good intentions of both the employer and employees at Amazon (Musshoff & Jantsch, 2018). The ethical theory will seek to evaluate if there exists any unconditionally good motive in Amazon’s quest for non-unionization as highlighted by (Seaquist & Coulter, 2012) and (Gawronski & Friesdorf, 2016). Amazon needs to have a sense of duty for its employees when it continues to support and implement non-unionization for employees. Deontology ethical theory will evaluate Amazon’s social responsibility on its employees and their dependents which is an ethical requirement.

Justice ethics

Amazon’s non-unionization calls will also be analyzed under the justice ethics ethical theory. This ethical theory will help analyze Amazon’s working condition without working under a union. The analysis will focus on the ethical standards guiding employees’ wages and salaries at Amazon. Just compensation is a right for all employees including those working without union protection (Seaquist & Coulter, 2012). The justice ethics theory will help analyze the ethical goal realized by the current compensation offered by Amazon. Amazon believes non-unionization is for the best of its customers, shareholder, and associates (Mazzei & Ravazzani, 2018). The analysis done based on the justice ethics theory will be based on fairness, equality, and entitlement of Amazon employees as highlighted by (Cattero & D’Onofrio, 2018).

Employee labor rights

The analysis on Amazon’s non-unionization calls will be based on the Weingarten Rights which are under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. Though the NLRB, Amazon employees have a right to union representation (Cullen & Parboteeah, 2013). The analysis will evaluate whether Amazon has engaged in unfair labor practices because of the non-unionization of its employees (Jauernig & Luetge, 2014). The practices will be analyzed based on the recommendations given by the National Labor Relations Board on the NLRA of 1935, Amazon can be deemed unethical by discriminating employees for engaging in a union or concerted activities (Seaquist & Coulter, 2012). Section 8 of the Act will help in evaluating the ethical standards maintained by Amazon through non-unionization. The recent calls by Amazon for unionization is an indication that Amazon employees could be facing the limitations of non-unionization.

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