If Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is the online Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) when it comes to unions, U.S. cosumers have yet to get the memo. Bloomberg reports that employees at a Delaware Amazon warehouse voted against organized labor representation in yet another defeat of unionization by the online retail gant. Amazon has managed to avoid the negative associations brick-and-mortar counterpart Wal-Mart often receives through nimble press relations. In fact, Amazon topped a recent YouGov survey for its image.
The world’s largest online retailer had the tiniest sliver of its employees vote on whether or not to elect union officials at a Delaware facility on January 15. Votes against unionizing came in 21-6 among the technicians who participated, guaranteeing Amazon another victory against unionization for U.S. employees despite a litany of complaints over workplace safety and wage issues.
However, The Huffington Post points out that Amazon continues to enjoy a spectacular public image, scoring top among all U.S. companies in a recent survey by researcher YouGov. The news of walkouts by German employees and accusations of corporate strong-arming to avoid unionization in the U.S. seem to float straight by the online retailer. Industry observers consider avoiding organized labor groups as essential to the success of Amazon.
A University of California Berkeley economics professor recently told Time that Amazon’s slim profit margins could become nonexistent should the company be forced to deal with organized labor groups’ efforts on behalf of members. The professor noted that Amazon has been able to retain its image as a tech company when in reality it’s more of a “Walmart without the bricks and mortar.”
Other retail industry experts agree that Amazon’s nimble PR management has kept the online retailer’s image positive when corporate giants such as Wal-Mart and McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) receive dismal press. A YouGov BrandIndex spokesperson told The Huffington Post Amazon’s ability to avoid major employee lawsuits and very public strikes (at least in the U.S.) has contributed to the online behemoth maintaining its sparkling image.
At a more fundamental level, Amazon’s business model of nameless employees and faceless online transactions contributes heavily to its Teflon Don status among U.S. consumers. This image will return huge dividends for Amazon as long as it holds. The investment the company reportedly makes to keep unions out of its workplaces appears to be well worth it.