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Amazon Air employees ramp up unionization efforts

Four hundred of an estimated 4,000 Amazon Air employees at CVG have signed a petition to join a union.

A group of workers at Amazon Air is trying to build support for a union at the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport. On Dec. 17, tug driver Griffin Ritze and others will try to get their message out.

"We're doing community canvases," he says. "We're going to be meeting up at the CVG viewing area by the airport complex and then breaking out into canvassing teams to go to different neighborhoods around the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati area."

Ritze says unionization efforts began after Amazon refused to pay them $2 extra an hour like it did last holiday season, and instead offered a 50 cent an hour raise for new workers. That 50 cents was on a graduating scale for existing workers who had been there two years.

"Amazon is a juggernaut in this economy now," Ritze says. "Organizing the unorganized is a key task for the entire labor movement, so it's an all hands-on deck moment right now."

He says Amazon wasted no time in union-busting. He says the company is trying to prevent them from distributing materials in break areas. Ritze tells WVXU he has had to file a couple of unfair labor practice charges against Amazon for interfering in activities protected under the National Labor Relations Act.

Amazon denies doing anything illegal. "Our employees have the choice of whether or not to join a union. They always have," spokeswoman Mary Kate Paradis told our news partner WCPO.

"As a company, we don't think unions are the best answer for our employees. Our focus remains on working directly with our team to continue making Amazon a great place to work."

So far, 400 of Amazon's 4,000 CVG employees have signed a petition to unionize.

Ritze's group wants a $30 starting hourly wage, up from $19.50, and 180 hours of paid time off.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.