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Amazon Union Drive Begins at Kentucky Air Hub

Low pay, forced overtime, and arbitrary disciplinary measures have driven workers to organize.

Amazon Air Hub

Low pay, forced overtime, and arbitrary disciplinary measures have driven workers at a massive Amazon air hub in Northern Kentucky to begin organizing a union.

Workers at the KCVG air hub planned to go public with the campaign at 6 am on Thursday with an early morning canvas in the facility’s parking lot. Ready with flyers with QR codes linking to their website, the workers aim to first gather signatures on a petition that demands a $30 starting wage and more paid time off. 

Signing the petition will also signify support for a unionization effort at the air freight facility, which serves as a midway point for packages being shipped across the United States. Organizers tell More Perfect Union that they intend to pursue affiliation with one of several national unions seeking to organize the world’s largest online retailer. Petition signatures are not official NLRB card signatures, which will come later down the line.

The organizing began earlier this fall, after Amazon gave workers raises as low as 50 cents an hour, then picked up pace after the company assigned mandatory overtime through the peak holiday season without the traditional overtime pay.

“The PAs only get paid two bucks more an hour and they’re overseeing their own crews, all the operations, and signing off on FAA paperwork, and I think people are starting to realize we’re being really underpaid for all the work we’re doing,” Griffin Ritze, a cargo tractor driver at the facility and member of the organizing committee, told More Perfect Union. “When they announced all these raises company-wide, it just fell really flat, and then they had the gall to call it a cost of living adjustment raise.”

Pay starts at $18 an hour at the 800,000-square-foot KCVG facility, which opened in 2021 and cost $1.5 billion to build. Nearby Amazon warehouses are being shuttered as more packages fly in and out of the hub, leading to layoffs that offset the promised new jobs at the new hub. 

Amazon “keeps adding fuel to the fire,” said Annie Gilb, who has loaded freight onto planes for the past nine months. The peak pay announcement inflamed a large segment of the workforce, adding urgency and support to the campaign.

“[Organizers] managed to acquire several hundred signatures for that on the day shift alone,” said Jordan Martin, who has worked on the plane ramps for the past year. “I think with everything that’s transpired recently that many people share the same sentiments we do and will be willing to join our cause moving forward.”

KCVG is the latest Amazon facility to experience an uptick in collective action from workers. Last month, workers at another air hub in Moreno Valley, CA submitted and then quickly withdrew their petition for a union election. They were seeking to affiliate with Amazon Labor Union.

Read Unionize Amazon KCVG‘s organizing letter, exclusively obtained by More Perfect Union, below:

Amazon Kentucky Air Hub Letter Page 2
Amazon Kentucky Air Hub Letter Page 3
Amazon Kentucky Air Hub Letter Page 4

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