📦 Say Hello To The Amazon Labor Union
It is arguably the greatest American labor victory of the 21st century: an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island beat the odds and voted to unionize last week. Over 8,000 eligible workers at the warehouse (the JFK8 fulfillment center) voted, and approved being represented by the newly-formed Amazon Labor Union by a margin of 10 percent—making them the first union in the company's history.
Unionizing efforts were almost single-handedly led by Christian Smalls, an employee at the warehouse who was fired for his campaign.
Amazon, who has been fighting unionization efforts aggressively in recent years, released a statement saying “We’re disappointed with the outcome of the election in Staten Island because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees,” notes the New York Times.
The Efforts In Alabama
While Amazon workers in Staten Island celebrate their union victory, workers in Bessemer, Alabama, have been struggling to find their own victory. Over 6,000 workers voted in an election last year where they rejected unionizing efforts 2-to-1. However, the National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon had significantly interfered with the efforts, and the NLRB ordered a revote. Turnout has been smaller in this new vote, and the margins smaller, but it appears workers may have rejected unionizing for a second time, notes NPR.
The pandemic created a massive change in the way we work. What will be interesting to see is if Amazon Labor Union is a one-off blip, or if we’re seeing workers seize the moment to their advantage.