In April, a group of Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York, successfully voted for a union, becoming the first US union at the company. They have since shown their support for other campaigns, most recently at two other warehouses.
The worker-led Amazon Labor Union has reached agreements to help workers organize and workers trying to organize in camps in Albany, New York, and Campbellsville, Kentucky, both of which are official branches of the union to provide financial support, according to ALU President Chris Smalls.
Recent developments show just how on the rise worker-led union campaigns are on the rise, which experts say raises the possibility that the ALU victory could boost union organizing in other camps.
However, they warn that the size of Amazon’s warehouses and Amazon’s well-funded union busting efforts will continue to be a major impediment to many labor campaigns.
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“This shows workers are coming together,” said ALU co-founder Jordan Flowers. “These workers want to see a union now, and they’re choosing ALU.”
ALU collaborations were first reported by More Perfect Union. Meanwhile, workers in Garner, North Carolina are currently in talks with them as their third location, according to Ryan Brown, an Amazon warehouse worker.
“We’re going to assist them 100%,” said Chris Smalls. “Whatever they need: resources, money, going out there.”
Amazon continues to voice its opposition to union campaigns, with spokeswoman Kelly Nantel sharing a statement.
“Our employees have the choice of whether or not to join a union. They always have,” said Nantel. “As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answers for our employees. Our focus remains on working directly to continue making Amazon a great place to work.”
The ALU was powered by a GoFundMe page that ran a month-long campaign at the Staten Island warehouse of 6,000 employees and recently became one of the biggest victories in the United States.
Although they won their case, Amazon filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board to overturn the decision, arguing that NLRB officials were biased towards workers and union leaders who bribed co-workers to obtain their support. The ALU denied the claims as the NLRB hearings continue today.
In May, the ALU lost a second union election at another Staten Island warehouse. The partnerships with Albany and Campbellsville are the first union campaigns after the Staten Island union.
Warehouse worker Matt Littrell said employees wanted Amazon to adjust to the busy work pace and uncomfortable heat in the building.
“The same issues come up time and time again, and they have for many years, yet the management is very apathetic towards those,” said Littrell. “We wanted to go with a union made up of workers and people who understand our unique environment.”
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