Amazon Wants It Clear That Drivers Are “Drivers Delivering for Amazon” and Do Not Work For Them

Drivers for one of Amazon‘s (Nasdaq: AMZN) delivery service partners (DSPs) in California went on strike last week to protest allegedly unsafe working conditions and the e-commerce giant’s refusal to bargain a contract with them. But the e-commerce giant wants it clear that they are not Amazon delivery drivers but drivers who deliver for Amazon. They insist there is a difference.

The strike was earlier reported by Vice’s Motherboard in an article with the headline “Amazon Delivery Drivers Walk Out in First-Ever Driver Strike,” and a spokesperson for the company reached out to the publication to clarify that these drivers are not Amazon drivers, but are drivers who deliver for Amazon, which they consider a critical distinction.

Amazon’s delivery system involves contracting third-party delivery companies known as DSPs to handle package delivery. While the drivers themselves are employed by the DSPs, Amazon creates the routes, sets delivery targets and goals, oversees performance, and unilaterally decides to terminate the drivers. They work in Amazon facilities and deliver Amazon packages exclusively, operating under terms established by Amazon. 

“H​​ow much they get paid is largely determined by terms Amazon sets with the DSP,” Motherboard wrote, adding that the semantic distinction between an Amazon delivery driver and a driver who delivers for Amazon is negligible to the average person, and Amazon’s request appears to be an attempt to distance itself from the striking drivers’ employment.

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The drivers, employed by the Amazon DSP Battle-Tested Strategies (BTS), and recently unionized with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, walked out of an Amazon facility. The walkout is significant because it marks the first time drivers who deliver for Amazon went on strike in the United States. 

The distinction Amazon is trying to push is also significant as it enables the company to leverage a vast network of delivery drivers while minimizing its liability and accountability. The company has consistently maintained that it does not directly employ these drivers, which has led to the current impasse in contract negotiations and the subsequent strike.

Source: Amazon

The Teamsters union argues that Amazon is, in fact, an employer of the drivers, stating that “there is no question that Amazon is a single and/or joint employer” with BTS. However, Amazon has raised doubts about this assertion, prompting the ongoing battle between the company and the Teamsters.

In May, the Teamsters filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge against Amazon with the National Labor Relations Board. They allege that the compnay illegally refused to sign the union’s collective bargaining agreement and terminated the contract with BTS, which had been set to auto-renew in October 2023.

Amazon, as evidenced by its need to have the headline updated, denies any wrongdoing and has claimed that the contract with BTS was terminated due to performance issues.

The DSP, according to a spokesperson in an email to Bloomberg Law, “has a history of underperformance and not providing a safe environment, and was notified that Amazon was ending their contract before the Teamsters got involved to try and re-write the facts.” 

In the ULP charge, the union claims that in the three years that BTS has been a DSP for Amazon, the drivers have been subject to “increasingly unrealistic performance expectations,” as well as extreme heat and vehicles that do not have air conditioning and proper windows, doors, and tires. 

According to the DLP, Amazon provides all vehicles to their DSPs. It also inspects every van before it goes on route, and has the sole discretion to ground a vehicle and the power to approve a grounded vehicle be released back to the road.

“Amazon has no respect for the rule of law, the health of its workers, or the livelihood of their families,” director of the Teamsters Amazon Division Randy Korgan said in a statement last Friday.

Information for this story was found via Motherboard, Bloomberg Law, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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