The union victory of Amazon workers represents a historic event within the second largest private employer in the country, with more than 1 million workers.
Amazon had previously said it didn’t see unions as necessary and tried to quell the demands by raising wages and benefits. Despite the efforts of the company created by Jeff Bezos, in one of the company’s largest warehouses in Staten Island with 2,654 workers they voted in favor of the creation of the union against 2,131 who did so against according to the National Labor Relations Board .
This victory for the Amazon union comes despite not being affiliated with any union coalition like those that support union building efforts at Amazon’s Alabama plant.
Amazon workers in New York want to unionize and deal a historic blow to Bezos
In this way, the union that is born from the efforts started last year remains independent and represents a milestone that can push more similar actions. Amazon isn’t the only giant facing similar labor moves. Starbucks sees 160 of its locations across the United States also signing petitions to organize and 9 of them have successfully voted in this direction since December.
A 33-year-old former Amazon employee has become the face behind this union victory. Christian Smalls was a supervisor at the Staten Island plant who was fired for organizing protests over working conditions during the pandemic. Following the results of the historic vote, Smalls opened a bottle of champagne and briefly chatted with LPO.
“We have worked and made history. This is the first union in Amazon. The first in 28 years, something historic,” he told this medium.
The fact of having managed to unionize, beyond the milestone, was also something very personal for you.
I got kicked out 2 years ago. My story goes beyond the process of creating the union, and I am happy to be here 2 years later defending the rights of workers. Having been part of this campaign makes me feel proud and it seems surreal that I was fired that day and now a circle is closed.
Beyond the fact that what has been achieved today is symbolic, do you think this movement will be extended to the rest of the company’s warehouses?
This is one of the company’s largest warehouses and the union includes some 8,000 workers. Being the first, especially in New York, a city with a long union tradition, is a huge success for the movement. It will be the catalyst for unions in the country. The rights of workers throughout the country will affect different sectors. Look what’s happening with Starbucks.
What will be the first demands?
The demands are simple, the unions want more job security and better wages of 30 dollars an hour, longer breaks, better vacations, better benefits and the right to negotiate a better contract and that we can also be shareholders again, something that it was removed in 2018.
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