This is how the scenario changes after creating its first union in the US

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“We have worked, we have had fun and we have made history.” A) Yes, via tweet And with an epic tone, a few hours ago the leader of the labor movement Christian Smalls celebrated the milestone reached by the workers of an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York. With 2,654 votes in favor and 2,131 against, the staff of the JFK8 logistics center, key to the Big Apple, has achieved something difficult to imagine just a few years ago: create the first Amazon union in the US.

Beyond the victory at the New York plant, the result of the polls is important as it marks a milestone in the history of the online commerce giant, which has been actively involved to prevent their employees from organizing at the union level. Over the last few months, Bezos’s firm has hung posters in the facilities in which asked to vote againstcreated a website to campaign along these lines and questioned the experience and competence of the union.

The main argument of the multinational —also used by other firms, such as Activision Blizzard—, is that the union is an “outside” agent and their intermediation prevents direct dialogue between the company and its employees. Part of his criticism has also focused on the organization that has finally managed to win the trust of the employees: ALU, the Amazon Labor Unionpushed by Smalls after being fired in March 2020.

A story influenced by COVID

The genesis of aluminum and the smalls case help understand the union movement at the Staten Island plant. Smalls, who was then a supervisor, organized a strike two years ago, during the start of the pandemic, to force the multinational to improve the protection of workers against COVID-19. Shortly after, the company fired him, alleging that he had not respected safety regulations by not quarantining. His case was not the only one.

Just a few months later, Tim Bray, one of the company’s vice presidents, resigned precisely because of Amazon’s response to critical voices regarding the protection of the workforce during the pandemic or its impact on the environment. in an open letter very critical posted on his personal website, the software developer and former director, censored the “toxicity” of the firm. The company’s alleged retaliation even motivated a lawsuit from the state attorney.

Now, with ALU’s victory at the polls, the National Labor Relations Board will have to confirm the results. Once the process is finished, the great challenge that the union will have to face is the negotiation of the collective agreement, precisely one of the arguments that Amazon has used to dissuade its employees from supporting the union. The company has claimed that Smalls’ organization lacks experience in such a process or even in managing funds.

The one in Staten Island is not the first move at Amazon to organize a labor union. In 2014 it was already registered a conato in a store of Delaware and a year ago it even got organized a similar vote in a warehouse in Bessemerin Alabama, although in that case the polls produced the opposite result: with 1,798 votes against and 738 in favour, the staff decided rule out union organization. On that occasion the process was launched with the biggest trade union in retail and a low participation level of 55% was recorded.

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Although in Alabama the vote has been repeated, the result is the same again. The “No” was imposed for the second year at the polls with a loose margin of 993 ballots against 875 in favor of the union movement. In the contest, however, there are 416 votes whose validity still casts doubt and will require a pronouncement from the authorities. in 2021 critical employees denounced that abusive conditions were applied in the plant, such as the removal of mobile phones, minimum breaks or penalties.

Amazon’s is a relevant case both for its weight in the technology sector and for its strong footprint in the labor market from the US, but it is not the only one facing a similar process. At the beginning of 2021 it was organized a union in Aplhabetthe parent company of Google, at Activision Blizzard there are movements in the same direction and, already outside the industry, Starbucks has seen how the union movement has also gained strength in the US as a result of the pandemic.

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Late last year, a group of employees in Buffalo, New York, created the first labor organization and since then other businesses in the country have made a move. An example that, probably, now they see with concern from the giant of online commerce.

“We have worked, we have had fun and we have made history.” A) Yes, via tweet And with an epic…

“We have worked, we have had fun and we have made history.” A) Yes, via tweet And with an epic…

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