Amazon-Owned Twitch Bans Amazon’s Union-Busting Ads

"These ads should never have been allowed to run on our service," Twitch said.
February 25, 2021, 7:13pm
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On the Clock is Motherboard's reporting on the organized labor movement, gig work, automation, and the future of work.

Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama are voting on unionization and Amazon is doing everything it can to stop them. As part of its anti-union campaign, Amazon ran anti-union ads on Twitch, the games streaming giant that it owns. Now Twitch has broken with its parent company and told Motherboard it has removed the ads, and that they should never have run in the first place.

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"Twitch does not allow political advertising, and these ads should never have been allowed to run on our service,” a Twitch spokesperson told Motherboard in an email. “We have removed these ads and are evaluating our review processes to ensure that similar content does not run in the future. We are grateful to our community for bringing this to our attention."

The ads, which were first reported by More Perfect Union, feature an Amazon warehouse employee explaining why they don't need a union: “We at the Birmingham team have great leadership. We really don’t need anyone coming in and telling us what they want to give us,” the worker says. “We have everything we need here. Always wanted to work for Amazon.”

“I will vote no for the union,” a chorus of voices says as the ad closes. “It’s not needed. Vote no, we can do it without the dues.”

The ad echoes talking points that Amazon has plastered around its Bessemer warehouse to convince workers to defeat a campaign to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). As Motherboard reported Wednesday, this has included a glossy mailer instructing employees how to "Vote NO," anti-union messaging in bathrooms, on websites, and in warehouses.

“Amazon is leaving no stone unturned —including ads on Twitch—in its efforts to deceive and intimidate their employees into voting against the union,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of RWDSU.

Political ads aren’t allowed according to Twitch’s terms of service. Sharing political opinions is allowed, but “you agree not to solicit the use of or use any Twitch monetization tool (e.g., Bits or subscriptions) for the purpose of making or delivering a contribution to a candidate, candidate’s committee, political action committee, ballot committee, or any other campaign committee, or otherwise for the purpose of influencing any election,” the TOS said. “Candidates for political office are not eligible to use any Twitch monetization tool on their channels.”