Glenn Spencer Glenn Spencer
Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


May 10, 2023


As this blog noted recently, the Teamsters Union seems a bit confused about who it is organizing. The union, and some news outlets, proclaimed that the Teamsters had organized Amazon workers when in fact no such thing had occurred. The union had actually organized a handful of drivers and dispatchers at a separate delivery company called Battle Tested Strategies. Making matters worse, the company was no longer providing any services to Amazon.  

However, the Teamsters have now asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) to seek a court order forcing Amazon to renew its contract with the delivery firm. This is rather unusual for a couple of reasons. 

First, the union claims Amazon threatened the jobs of workers at Battle Tested Strategies. But those are not Amazon employees, so the company doesn’t control their hiring or firing. Second, the union is essentially arguing that Amazon shouldn’t be able to decide what firms it will or won’t do business with in its private contracts. 

Hopefully the NLRB will decline to seek such a court order, although the agency’s General Counsel has been quite willing to pursue injunctions in odd circumstances – even including those where unions have already won elections. But even if such a court order is requested, a judge should see right through the Teamster’s PR efforts and affirm the principle that private sector firms can determine their own business partners. 

Something more nefarious may be at work though. The NLRB is currently finalizing a new joint employer regulation. It’s anticipated that this rule will make it easier for the Board to determine that businesses should be held liable for workers they don’t actually employ and workplaces they don’t control. Perhaps the Teamsters are hoping that their case will, somewhere down the road, generate a ruling that somehow the non-Amazon workers they’ve unionized are unexpectedly determined to be actual employees of the company. 

This could shape up to be a larger policy fight, but for now either the NLRB or a court should end this story before it can really get started.  

About the authors

Glenn Spencer

Glenn Spencer

Spencer oversees the Chamber’s work on immigration, retirement security, traditional labor relations, human trafficking, wage hour and worker safety issues, EEOC matters, and state labor and employment law.

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