Amazon contract drivers in Palmdale join the Teamsters union

The word Amazon with a blue curved arrow underneath it.
The Amazon logo on a delivery van.
(Steven Senne / Associated Press)

More than 80 contract drivers and dispatchers who handle deliveries for Amazon Inc. have joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, marking the labor movement’s latest attempt to gain a foothold in the company’s e-commerce empire.

The drivers work for one of many Amazon delivery service partners, small businesses that rent vans, hire drivers and ferry packages for the e-commerce giant. The workers in Palmdale are joining Teamsters Local 396, the union announced Monday.

“Amazon workers are joining the Teamsters to demand more from this company, including good wages, safe working conditions and respect,” said Randy Korgan, Teamsters Amazon division director and Teamsters Joint Council 42 director of organizing. “The Teamsters are coordinating nationwide with Amazon workers, allies committed to holding this corporation accountable, and our union’s 1.2 million members to make sure Amazon provides the benefits and protections that working people deserve.”


The 84 workers have a tentative agreement with their employer, Battle-Tested Strategies, the union said. It’s scheduled to be voted on in the coming weeks and includes pay raises and a grievance procedure.

The Teamsters also represent United Parcel Service drivers, who earn more and get better benefits than their Amazon counterparts.

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It’s hard to tell how big of an effect the move will have on Amazon, which said it was already cutting ties with the business.

Spokesperson Eileen Hards said the delivery partner “had a track record of failing to perform and had been notified of its termination for poor performance well before today’s announcement. This situation is more about an outside company trying to distract from their history of failing to meet their obligations.”

Johnathon Ervin, who owns Battle-Tested Strategies, said his business has delivered 10 million Amazon packages since it began in October 2019. Ervin said Amazon offered him a $75,000 payout to end his contract, but he has yet to respond.

Ervin said that he has relayed his drivers’ concerns about pay and van upkeep to Amazon, but that the company hasn’t done anything.


He said his average driver earns $19.75 an hour and that the Teamsters agreement calls for a 30-cent raise in May.

“We are going to work out some agreements and hopefully we can bring Amazon to the table for further enhancements to the morale and welfare of our drivers,” Ervin said.

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The Amazon Labor Union won a historic election at an Amazon facility in New York last year — the only time a union has won the right to represent the company’s U.S. workers. But the grassroots ALU was defeated in two subsequent elections by wide margins.

Amazon has refused to bargain with the union, and the company’s lengthy appeals process means contract negotiations are likely a long way off.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, meanwhile, is seeking to represent workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. Federal officials determined that Amazon’s conduct during a vote there in 2021 made a fair election impossible, but a rerun election hinges on contested ballots.