Amazon Workers in New York Unionize After Historic Labor Vote

Amazon Workers Hold Vote on Unionizing, Brooklyn, USA - 01 Apr 2022
JASON SZENES / EPA-EFE / iStock.com

Amazon workers on Staten Island voted to unionize on April 1 in what the New York Times calls “one of the biggest victories for organized labor in a generation.”

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“It’s official! Amazon Labor Union is the first Amazon union in US HISTORY! POWER TO THE PEOPLE! #UnionStrong #ALUfortheWin,” an account ostensibly belonging to the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) tweeted.

The tally – in the facility known as the JFK8 fulfillment center — was 2,654 votes in favor of joining the union and 2,131 opposed. Approximately 8,325 workers were eligible to vote on whether or not to become part of the Amazon Labor Union, CNBC reported.

Christian Smalls, president and founder of the Amazon Labor Union, tweeted “@amazon wanted to make me the face of the whole unionizing efforts against them… welp there you go! @JeffBezos @DavidZapolsky. CONGRATULATIONS @amazonlabor. We worked had fun and made History !#ALU # ALUfortheWin welcome the 1st union in America for Amazon.”

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The union was formed in April 2021 by a group of concerned workers led by Smalls, a process assistant at JFK8 on Staten Island who was fired by Amazon management for organizing protests over Amazon’s unsafe COVID-19 protocols, per the union’s website. In a message on the same website, Smalls wrote: “Amazon has spent millions on millions of dollars trying to stop the ALU. It would take only a fraction of that to pay every JFK8 worker $30/hour. It is easy to see why this has not happened yet. Amazon has always put profit over people. The Amazon Labor Union has never promised anything, but I can promise you this: we will fight for you. Unlike the company, we won’t have a system that writes you up or tells you to ‘just call the ERC [Employee Resource Center].'”

As for Amazon, it fought against the union, papering the walls at JFK8 with banners that proclaimed “Vote No,” CNBC reported.

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According to Amazon’s “UnpackJFK8” website which argues against a unionization vote, the company says that the ALU “think they can do a better job speaking for you than you can do for yourself. The ALU wants to speak for you. We want to speak with you. We trust and respect you to speak for yourself. It’s really that simple.”

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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