Amazon staff at Staten Island Vote to agree

It was a coalition campaign that few expected to have. A handful of employees at the Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, operating without the support of international operating agencies, took on one of the most powerful companies in the world.

And, somehow, they won.

Workers on the site voted for the border to form a union, according to the results released Friday, in one of the biggest successes of organized workers in the generation.

Workers cast 2,654 votes to be represented by the Amazon Labor Union and 2,131 against, giving the union a 10 percent chance of winning, according to the National Labor Relations Board. More than 8,300 warehouse workers, the only Amazon in New York City, were eligible to vote.

Success in Staten Island comes at a time of crisis for unions in the United States, which saw the share of corporate workers drop last year to 10.3 percent, the lowest number in decades, even though many people needed workers, pockets of successful works. and the rise of human consent.

Critics – including labor officials – allege that the law enforcement agencies did not spend enough money or showed adequate planning for the campaign and that they often bet on the wrong fights. Some say that corruption is temporary.

The success of the Amazon deal, the first company in the United States after years of encouraging employees there, offers a great opportunity to change the process and add to its recent success. Many union leaders see Amazon as a threat to the industry because it affects many industries and often controls them.

But the success of a lesser-known independent partnership with fewer relationships with existing groups seems to raise many questions for the working class as it responds: at least, if something is broken and a social cohesion system can be resolved. instead replacing larger organizations such as the one on Staten Island.

Amazon must strongly oppose the success of this agreement. A statement he did not sign on his corporate blog said, “We are disappointed with the outcome of the election on Staten Island because we believe that having a direct relationship with the company is good for our employees.”

The Staten Island results followed what appears to be a bit of a loss to Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union at Amazon’s largest Alabama warehouse. Voting is so close that the results will not be known for several weeks because rival voters are being sued.

The incredible resilience shown by organizations in all of these areas means that Amazon will face challenges over the years for other companies from the working class and the motivating working class. As recent league successes at Starbucks have shown, success in one place can inspire others.

Amazon hired hard two years ago and now has 1.6 million employees worldwide. But it has been plagued by economic instability, and the epidemic has given workers the power to grow while adding to occupational safety concerns. The Staten Island warehouse, known as JFK8, was surveyed by the New York Times last year, which found it to be a sign of difficulties – including unintentional shooting and downpouring – of employees due to Amazon’s work.

“The epidemic has changed the way jobs are done” by giving workers more power and employers, says John Logan, a professor of vocational education at San Francisco State University. “It is a question of whether organizations can take advantage of the opportunities that change has opened up.”

Standing outside the NLRB office in Brooklyn, where the vote was counted, Christian Smalls, a former Amazon employee who co-founded the union, pulled out a champagne bottle in front of a group of followers and printed it. “For the first Amazon partnership in American history,” he was delighted.

Amazon said it was reviewing its options, including opposing “inappropriate and improper” practices by the NLRB in filing a lawsuit against Amazon in federal court last month.

In that case, the NLRB asked the judge to compel Amazon to expedite the redress of “unfair practices” that took place when Amazon fired its contractor. Amazon argued in court that the labor union had abandoned the “political neutrality of their office” by issuing the document before the election.

Amazon will need to ensure that any unwarranted allegations of harassment disrupt the so-called laboratories necessary for fair elections, said Wilma B. Liebman, chairman of the NLRB under the leadership of President Barack Obama.

President Biden was “delighted to see workers making sure their voices were heard” at Amazon’s venue, Jen Psaki, a press secretary at the White House, told reporters. “They strongly believe that every employee in every state should make a free and fair choice to join the organizations,” he said.

A close question facing the working class and other development teams is how they can help the founders of the Amazon Labor Union cope with the potential consequences of the consequences and discuss first aid, such as providing support and legal expertise.

“The company is appealing, dragging it – it will be a constant battle,” said Gene Bruskin, a long-time organizer who contributed to the final success of the staff at this level, at Smithfield’s Brewery in 2008, and took action. casually advised working at Staten Island. “The union needs to know how to help them.”

Sean O’Brien, the new president of the 1.3 million members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said in a statement Thursday that the alliance was ready to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to unite Amazon and partner with various other organizations and move forward. groups.

“We have a lot of friends at work,” said Mr. O’Brien. “We have community groups. It will be a great union. ”

The climate of fear created by the critical review of the yields published by The Times in JFK8 has been a major boost to the consolidation of the partnership, which began in earnest about a year ago. The Amazon site provided support to workers during the epidemic but it fired workers and had poor communication and expertise so that employees unknowingly lost their jobs or lost profits.

For some employees, the stress of working in a warehouse during Covid was a shocking factor that led them to take action. Mr Smalls, President of the Amazon Labor Union, said he was shocked in March 2020 when he met a colleague who was ill. He asked the authorities to close the facility for two weeks. The company fired him after he helped lead security measures at the end of March that year.

Amazon said at the time it had taken “major steps” to keep workers safe, including more cleanliness and transparency. It also alleged that it fired the Smalls for violating social media guidelines and for taking them to social gatherings even in private.

A staff member at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., Strongly opposed the retailer’s decision in its first election last year, Mr. Smalls and Derrick Palmer, a fellow Amazon employee, decided to form a new union, the Amazon Labor Union. .

While preparations in Alabama included advanced techniques, with progressive aides such as Senator Bernie Sanders visiting the region, organizers at JFK8 benefited from staying indoors.

For months, they bought buses outside the warehouse, roasted meat at a butcher’s shop, and sometimes even in a pan. (The vendors said they were disappointed with Covid on their first election in Alabama.)

He also filed a series of lawsuits against the NLRB, alleging that Amazon violated their rights. The labor union found fit in a number of cases, including one in which Amazon established an international agreement to allow workers to work on the site.

At times, the Amazon Labor Union was stunted. The Labor Board confirmed this fall that the new board, which had been collecting signatures from months of voting candidates for the month, had not shown enough support for the election. But the developers kept trying, and by the end of January they had collected enough signatures.

Amazon earned its minimum payment of $ 15 per hour for advertising and other public services. The company also launched an anti-union campaign, sent employees text messages and ordered them to attend anti-union meetings. He spent $ 4.3 million on anti-union counselors across the country last year, according to an annual report Thursday by the Department of Labor.

In February, Mr Smalls was arrested on the spot after a manager allegedly entered the premises illegally by delivering food to co-workers and calling the police. Two of the current staff members were also arrested at the time, which appears to have sparked interest in the alliance.

The difference in the results of Bessemer and Staten Island could indicate differences in reception of organizations in the two states – about 6 percent of Alabama workers and union members, compared to 22 percent in New York – as well as differences in mail delivery. the choice is one that is made individually.

But it can also show the benefits of preparation through an independent, staff-led partnership. In Alabama, union officials and professional developers were still barred from operating under a union agreement. But in Staten Island, a large part of the corporate leadership and developers were current employees.

“What we were trying to say all along was that having employees inside is a very powerful tool,” said Mr. Palmer, who makes $ 21.50 an hour. “People didn’t believe it, but you can’t beat the workers who are preparing for the other workers.”

The Amazon Labor Union’s independence also seemed to undermine anti-union rhetoric in Amazon, which made the union a “third party” affiliate.

On March 25, workers at JFK8 began queuing outside the tent in the parking lot to vote. And after five days of voting, he cast his vote to form the first coalition to carry out Amazon operations in the United States.

Another election, which was brought back by the Amazon Labor Union in the vicinity of Staten Island, is expected to take place in late April.

Jodi Office supported reports.

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