In a modern-day version of "David versus Goliath", a handful of employees at an Amazon fulfillment center in New York City, without support from national labor organizations, took on one of the most powerful companies in the world, and won.
On April 1, Amazon workers at the Staten Island warehouse, known as JFK8, voted to form a union in what labor leaders are calling one of the biggest victories for organized labor in a generation. Employees cast 2,654 votes to be represented by Amazon Labor Union and 2,131 against, giving the union a win by more than 10 percentage points, according to the National Labor Relations Board.
This historic victory against the US’s second largest employer was led by Christian Smalls, a former Amazon employee who was laid off in March 2020 after leading a walkout at a Staten Island warehouse over pandemic working conditions. Amazon had stated that Smalls violated quarantine requirements, but Smalls is convinced he was dismissed in retaliation for his protest.
The company’s crackdown on that worker protest backfired, according to Jodi Kantor and Karen Weise for the New York Times, and led to the historic labor victory.
How Two Best Friends Beat Amazon (Jodi Kantor & Karen Weise - The New York Times)
Now, "staff at more than 50 Amazon warehouses have contacted the organizers of Amazon’s first-ever union, expressing interest in setting up unions of their own," writes Gloria Oladipo for The Guardian.
‘The revolution is here’: Chris Smalls’ union win sparks a movement at other Amazon warehouses (Gloria Oladipo - The Guardian)
Alina Selyukh also highlights the ALU's efforts for NPR.
Chris Smalls started Amazon's 1st union. He's now heard from workers at 50 warehouses (Alina Selyukh - NPR)
In another article from The New York Times, Karen Weise and Noam Scheiber write that, "the union victory at Amazon, after years of worker activism there, offers an enormous opportunity to change that trajectory and build on recent wins." Union leaders regard Amazon as "an existential threat to labor standards because it touches so many industries and frequently dominates them."
Amazon Workers on Staten Island Vote to Unionize in Landmark Win for Labor (Karen Weise & Noam Scheiber - The New York Times)