What Are Your Rights: The Benefits and Drawbacks of Joining a Labor Union

Recorded on October 26, 2022

Recently, Amazon employees voted against unionizing at the Amazon warehouse in Schodack. The Amazon Labor Union had been trying to organize workers to vote yes on a union for months. Managing partner Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on CBS6 to explain a little bit what unions are in this week’s “What Are Your Rights?” segment.

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Announcer: Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Interviewer: Just last week, Amazon employees voted against unionizing at the Amazon warehouse in Schodack. The Amazon Labor Union had been trying to organize workers to vote yes on a union for months. Managing partner, Paul Harding, with Martin Harding & Mazzotti is here right now to talk to us a little bit about this. So explain a little bit what unions are.

Paul: So unions are basically kinda what the word implies, they unite, the workers unite, they get together, they’re able to go in to see the management collectively, right? They do it not as one, where maybe you can get run over, but as a group, and that at its essence, that’s what a union is.

Interviewer: So there must be pros and cons. What are some of them?

Paul: Yeah. It’s not like everyone wants to run and do it, but the pros, hey, you get to negotiate a deal and everyone gets to kinda stand behind it, and the outcome could be, “Hey, we might shut you down,” right? So there’s that strength in the negotiation. But I also think that probably historically what we’ve seen with unions, you know, with child labor laws and some of the stuff of the early days post-industrial revolution, it made it much safer and it kinda created an environment that gave people a normal work week or a reasonable work week. So we’ve seen a historical upside of that, and today again, there’s a debate.

Interviewer: Yeah. Some of the cons, did you mention?

Paul: Well, yeah, well, you know, you can’t negotiate your own deal, right? You say, “Well, I’m a little better than the guy next door or the woman next door, so I wanna make a few more dollars.” No. You’re gonna join that group. So that could be deemed a con. And I think that also there’s this sense that if we unionize, right, that we’re gonna have more distance from the owner, we’re not gonna have this kind of familiar relationship that some companies have. And of course, higher wages, higher costs that go out to the community.

Interviewer: Right. And we have seen a big push for more unionization recently with Starbucks and Amazon across the country. Why is this happening now?

Paul: It’s a good point, but historically, when you have a small labor force, they sit in the driver’s seat, right? Now, if we had an abundance of labor and unemployment was at 10% or 12%, people would just be taking jobs and not trying to jeopardize that or create unions. So we’re probably gonna see a little more of that as the next several years go on.

Interviewer: Yeah. We were a little bit surprised that they voted down on the union last week, so can you explain why that might have happened?

Paul: Sure. Nationally, it’s about split. You know, certain places they’ve gone, they’ve developed the unions, and I think here because New York has so many favorable rules already in place that it was turned down. And, you know, at the end of the day they can do it again, I think in a year. They may or may not. It’s expensive to get to a union vote. So I think we’re not gonna see Amazon Warehouse Union anytime soon.

Interviewer: Gotcha. All right. Well, thanks for breaking it down for us…

Paul: You’re welcome.

Interviewer: … and for talking to us again this week.

Paul: Sure. Anytime.

Interviewer: All righty. And for more info covered in our weekly, “What Are Your Rights?” segments, or to send us a story idea, just head to our website, cbs6albany.com. We’ll be right back.

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