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The Wall Street Journal reports that a group of Whole Foods workers sent an email to their fellow employees at most of the chain’s 490 stores, urging them to support a unionization drive.

The letter cites a changed corporate culture and diminished compensation since Whole Foods was acquired by Amazon, and asks for better pay, benefits and profit sharing.

The Journal writes that “the unionization push presents a potentially high-profile challenge to Amazon, which has opposed past organizing efforts by warehouse workers and other employees that are less visible to customers than grocery-store clerks … Amazon workers in Germany, Spain and Poland held strikes around Amazon’s Prime Day promotion in July to demand better health protections and job-safety measures. Germany’s powerful service-workers’ union has held a number of job actions over pay and working conditions in recent years.

“Amazon has fought those efforts. The e-commerce company has said that it treats its workers fairly and that reports of inhospitable conditions at its facilities are untrue.”

The unionization move comes as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has introduced legislation that would require large employers such as Amazon, Walmart and McDonald’s to fully cover the cost of food stamps, public housing, Medicaid and other federal assistance received by their employees. In other words, if such an employee got $300 in food stamps in a given year to supplement a low wage, the employer would be taxed $300.

Sanders is taking direct aim at Amazon with the bill: he calls it “the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies” bill … or the “Stop BEZOS” bill.
KC's View:
The fact is, the bigger Amazon gets, the bigger a target it is going to be … and it has to be prepared to suffer the slings and arrows that traditionally have been aimed at companies like Walmart.

I don’t have a lot of confidence that this will happen, but wouldn’t it be interesting if Amazon, which has been so disruptive in how it approaches so many problems and industries, brought that same level of innovation and creativity to how it works with the labor force. When the ultimate boss is touted as being the richest person on the planet - ever - maybe it isn’t beyond imagination to come up with some sort of profit sharing plan that makes everybody feel like they have some skin in the game.

As I think about this, I must admit that I expect Amazon to be different - and better - when it comes to employee relations. Mostly because it has established that benchmark in so many other areas.