Amazon Labor Union scored an historic victory April 1, becoming the first union at an Amazon facility in the U.S. From March 25 to March 30, all nonmanagement workers at the Staten Island, New York, Amazon warehouse, known as JFK8, had the opportunity to vote on whether to be represented by the ALU. The final totals, certified by the National Labor Relations Board, were 2,654 yes votes to 2,131 no votes, with 67 challenged ballots. Over half of the 8,325 eligible employees participated in the vote. A simple majority was needed to win.
The union campaign began in April 2021, when Amazon failed to address workers’ concerns over the lack of COVID-19 safety precautions. The Staten Island warehouse is a major distribution hub for Amazon’s massive network of delivery stations and fulfillment and sortation centers.
At a rally in Brooklyn in October 2021, ALU president Chris Smalls explained what the union hopes to achieve:
“ALU has put together a list of demands which we have full intentions to fight for as a bonafide union. We intend to fight for higher wages, job security, safer working conditions, more paid time off, better medical leave options and longer breaks. We also want to fight to bring back monthly VCP [variable compensation pay] bonuses for attendance and productivity and for becoming shareholders again upon employment with the company on Day 1. Both ended in 2018.”
“This is truly a remarkable historical moment for all Amazon workers all over the country. ALU has already broken barriers and will continue to do so, but we’re not getting complacent. We now need the support of the communities more than ever, as our fight is just getting started.” (Workers.org, Oct. 23, 2021)
Articles copyright 1995-2022 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Amazon Union: “While Jeff Bezos Was In Space, We Were Down Here Organizing”
BreakThrough News on Apr 2, 2022
Amazon workers in Staten Island voted to form the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the country.
The vote marks a historic victory for the labor movement.
BT spoke to the workers who led the union drive about why they organized this campaign.
“We Just Unionized Amazon”: How Two Best Friends Beat the Retail Giant’s Union-Busting Campaign
Democracy Now! on Apr 1, 2022
We speak with the two best friends who led a drive to organize workers at Amazon’s warehouse in Staten Island, New York, and made history Friday after a majority voted to form the first Amazon union in the U.S. We speak with Christian Smalls, interim president of the new union and former Amazon supervisor, about how he led the effort after Amazon fired him at the height of the pandemic for demanding better worker protections. “I think we proved that it’s possible, no matter what industry you work in, what corporation you work for,” says Smalls. “We just unionized Amazon. If we can do that, we can unionize anywhere.” We also speak with Derrick Palmer, who works at the Amazon JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island and is the vice president of the Amazon Labor Union, about intimidation tactics the company used. Reporter Josefa Velásquez covered the union drive for The City and discusses what the victory means for the broader labor movement.
From the archives: