Amazon Workers Win Historic Fight, Establishing First Unionized Amazon Warehouse in America

The workers won the unionization drive by more than 500 votes, after raising money on GoFundMe.

Amazon Workers Win Historic Fight, Establishing First Unionized Amazon Warehouse in America
Photo:ED JONES/AFP (Getty Images)

Up against one of the most powerful companies in the world, Amazon Labor Union won its union drive in Staten Island, NY, on Friday, becoming the first unionized Amazon warehouse in America. The independent union, which is led by current and former warehouse workers and unaffiliated with traditional labor heavyweight outfits like the Teamsters, won the election by more than 500 votes: 2,654 to 2,131. This was a real David vs. Goliath-type fight, and the outcome is a very big deal.

The company’s JFK8 facility employees more than 8,000 people. After more than 2,000 warehouse workers signed union authorization cards, the union filed for an election in October 2021. (A union authorization card says the employee wants to represented by a union.)

The victory was announced outside the National Labor Relations Board building in Brooklyn, NY, before 1 p.m. EDT. “My team has been amazing, the way we’ve been organizing camping out for the last 11 months in front of the building, occupying the breakroom. I didn’t expect nothing less,” Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls told VICE News.

Amazon released a statement on Friday: “We’re disappointed with the outcome of the election in Staten Island because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees. We’re evaluating our options, including filing objections based on the inappropriate and undue influence by the NLRB that we and others (including the National Retail Federation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce) witnessed in this election.”

The victory is historic, not only because of their workplace, but because the union is independent. Usually campaigns are fought with the backing and resources of a traditional shop; for example, G/O Media sites are represented by two unions under the Writers Guild of America, East. Instead, Amazon Labor Union raised funds on GoFundMe.

Amazon has been squirming for a while. Back in August, an investigation by the NLRB found that Amazon illegally preventing an employee from distributing pro-union materials. In 2021, the commerce giant spent $4.3 million on anti-union consultants to help wage captive audience meetings in an effort to keep the Staten Island facility as well as Bessemer, Ala., facility free of any union, according to HuffPost.

Hopefully this is the first of many victories for historically abused Amazon warehouse workers.

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