A Group of Amazon Drivers Just Joined One of the Biggest Unions in the US

Drivers in California have joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, in one of the first driver-specific unionization efforts in the company.
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Amazon drivers and dispatchers in California have joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, one of the oldest, largest, and most powerful unions in the U.S., to organize for better working conditions, according to an announcement by the Teamsters on Monday. 

On the same day, workers marched on Amazon’s management offices at the warehouse to demand that the company respect their right to unionize. This is the first time the Teamsters have successfully organized an Amazon-related facility.


The group of 84 delivery drivers in Palmdale, California work at Amazon’s DAX8 delivery station. They’re not Amazon employees, but rather employees of an Amazon Delivery Service Partner (DSP) called Battle-Tested Strategies. The delivery company, not Amazon, is responsible for dispatching and planning routes for drivers—but it dispatches out of DAX8 and delivers Amazon-branded packages, often with Amazon-branded trucks or vans. 

This is a significant development in the unionization effort across Amazon, one of the biggest employers in the country, because its large network of DSPs is how it’s able to deliver packages so quickly. 

“We want fair pay and safe jobs, to be able to provide food for our families,” said Rajpal Singh, one driver in Palmdale, in the press release. “We want to know we will make it home to our families at night after delivering Amazon packages in the extreme heat. We organized with the Teamsters to change our working conditions for the better.”

The Teamsters union is responsible for organizing UPS, one of the biggest package delivery companies in the country. UPS drivers also faced extreme heat conditions last summer, which the union responded to. 

The drivers have joined Teamsters Local 396 and won “neutrality and voluntary union recognition,” the press release states. The local union organizing officials have negotiated a tentative agreement with the DSP, which members will vote on in the upcoming weeks. The agreement proposes “immediate pay increases, substantial hourly raises in the fall, provisions that hold Amazon accountable on health and safety standards, a grievance procedure, and other benefits.”  


“We deliver in an Amazon van, wearing an Amazon uniform, but when we petition Amazon, they ignore us. We have a mass of support, we are a union, and now they need to listen,” Singh said. 

“Amazon delivery drivers at DAX8 have made history by organizing their union with Teamsters Local 396 to demand dignity and respect at work,” said Victor Mineros, the secretary-treasurer of the local. “I commend these workers for their courage to take on this greedy multibillion-dollar corporation. We are confident this will lead other Amazon workers nationwide to organize with the Teamsters.”

 “Whether the Teamsters are being intentionally misleading or they just don’t understand our business, the narrative they're spreading is false,” Amazon spokesperson Eileen Hards told Motherboard. “This group does not work for Amazon. Our delivery network is made up of thousands of independently owned and operated small businesses who provide delivery services for our company. This particular third party company 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.” 

The Teamsters organize UPS and DHL, two massive U.S. delivery companies, as well as workers in warehousing, trucking, and construction jobs. Currently, the union is in the throes of bargaining a contract renewal with UPS, as the current contract is set to expire on July 31. Workers are gearing up for a strike, Teamsters officials have been posting on social media. 

The Teamsters also recently opened an Amazon division, which is responsible for overseeing unionization efforts at Amazon and preventing the company from getting a bigger foothold in rural communities. In one town on Long Island, New York, Teamsters organizing helped prevent Amazon from building a warehouse that would destroy a community’s only access to greenspace. The union says it intends to improve pay and working conditions in Amazon to match the industry standard, as Amazon’s injury rate has frequently been reported to be double the industry rate. Motherboard has previously extensively reported on the dangerous conditions both warehouse workers and drivers have to endure. 

“We will be victorious in this fight,” Teamsters president Sean O’Brien wrote on Twitter. “Teamsters set the standard and are just getting bigger, faster and stronger.”

Battle-Tested Strategies did not respond to a request for comment. 

Update: This story has been updated with comment from Amazon.