In April, a group of Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York were successful in voting for a union, becoming the first-ever US union within the company. Since then, they have shown their support for other campaigns, recently at two additional warehouses.
The worker-led union, Amazon Labor Union, reached agreements to help organize and provide financial assistance for workers trying to unionize warehouses in Albany, New York, and Campbellsville, Kentucky, both of which will affiliate as formal chapters of the union, according to ALU President Chris Smalls.
The recent developments show how worker-led union campaigns are growing, which raises the possibility that the ALU’s victory could foster unionization at other warehouses, according to experts.
However, they warn that the size of Amazon warehouses and well-resourced anti-union efforts from Amazon will remain a major obstacle for many labor campaigns.
“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’s partnerships were first reported by More Perfect Union. Meanwhile, workers in Garner, North Carolina are currently discussing with them as the third facility, according to Amazon warehouse worker Ryan Brown.
“We’re going to assist them 100%,” said Chris Smalls. “Whatever they need: resources, money, going out there.”
Amazon continues to express its opposition to union campaigns with spokesperson 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 fueled by a GoFundMe page that carried out a month-long campaign at the 6,000-employee warehouse on Staten Island, becoming one of the most prominent labor victories in the US in recent memory.
Although victorious, Amazon filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board to overturn the outcome, claiming NLRB officials showed a bias towards the workers and that union leaders bribed colleagues to win their support. The ALU rejected the claims as the NLRB hearings continue today.
In May, the ALU lost a second union election at another warehouse in Staten Island. The partnerships with Albany and Campbellsville mark the first labor campaigns since the union drives on Staten Island.
Warehouse worker Matt Littrell shared that employees want Amazon to address the demanding 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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