Amazon Labor Union next showdown in New York

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Image Source: CNN

In what was generally regarded as a “David vs. Goliath” struggle, a grassroots worker group achieved history in April by obtaining enough votes to establish the first US union at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York. But, unfortunately, the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), which belonged to the same organization, was unsuccessful the next month at a different, smaller site.

The organization is going to launch its third attempt right now. Workers at an Amazon plant close to Albany, New York, will start casting ballots on Wednesday to decide whether to join Amazon Labor Union and become the second unionized Amazon warehouse in the US. According to the National Labor Relations Board, voting will take place from Wednesday through Monday, and the results will be announced on October 18. (NLRB).

The union at the ALB1 facility faces significant risks. The outcome of the ballot could reveal whether the ALU’s first victory was an exception or the start of a string of union victories that could inspire more workers abroad and increase pressure on Amazon. Additionally, Amazon has yet to acknowledge the Staten Island union publicly or enter into negotiations. Instead, Amazon keeps fighting back against the group’s NLRB victory.

This week’s decision is being followed by employees throughout the nation “at other Amazon operations and other corporations,” according to Thomas Kochan, a labor expert and professor emeritus at the MIT Sloan School of Management’s Institute for Work and Employment Research. He claimed that Amazon’s opposition to the Staten Island Amazon Labor Union has demonstrated how the odds are stacked against workers who are trying to form a union.

Amazon Labor Union president Chris Smalls stated in a CNN Business interview that he had visited the ALB1 plant as frequently as possible to talk with employees. He yet seemed to downplay the effects of the most recent vote, implying that the organizational effort alone is a success.

Smalls tweeted on Tuesday that an additional Amazon fulfillment site in Moreno Valley, California, has submitted a petition to the ALU for a union election. The petition had been received, the NLRB said to CNN Business.

Amazon has consistently insisted that engaging with employees directly is preferable to doing so through a union. Amazon spokesperson Paul Flaningan provided CNN with the following statement in response to their request for comment regarding the ALB1 vote:

Amazon Labor Union building for “victory”

Heather Goodall claimed that after witnessing so many of her coworkers suffer workplace injuries, she was motivated to begin organizing the union at the business close to Albany. According to a recent analysis from the National Employment Law Project, of all the Amazon facilities in the state, the ALB1 plant had the highest incidence of “most serious injuries.”

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which has attempted and so far failed to unionize an Amazon plant in Alabama, was among the other unions represented at the meetings, according to Goodall, the lead organizer at ALB1. But when they met with the ALU, they soon discovered points of agreement.

According to Kochan, the ALU’s triumph in Staten Island “surprised everyone, including Amazon.” RWDSU’s efforts in Alabama failed, prompting the ALU’s push, which was partly driven by dissatisfaction with the company’s pandemic response and a greater focus on racial injustices in the United States.

Since she started attempting to unionize the facility, Goodall claimed she has faced various HR investigations and had the police called on her numerous times. During one of those contacts with the police, she took a video and shared it on Twitter after the policemen who arrived on the scene ended up supporting her efforts to organize the group. More than 80,000 people saw the incident on Twitter. According to Flaningan, no employee has ever faced retaliation from Amazon “for exercising their federally protected right to organize.” According to him, Amazon only contacted the neighborhood police when visitors were present.

Read Also: Apple store workers vote to form first union in the US 

Although it is against the law to retaliate against employees who want to unionize, Goodall believes Amazon doesn’t care because it can afford to pay any fines it may later receive.

Goodall thinks that allowing her employees to form a union will result in a “better quality of life” for them, including increased pay. However, she stressed that for employees of a firm like Amazon, which is strong and successful, it’s also about “being recognized and valued.”