- Advertisement -

Amazon’s bid to unionize workers at a delivery facility in New York City marks a significant milestone, as organizers prepare to hand hundreds of signatures to the National Labor Relations Board as soon as Monday for authorization to hold a vote.

advertisement

Organizers say they have collected signatures from more than 2,000 employees at four Amazon facilities in Staten Island.

- Advertisement -

The bid to set up an Amazon labor union in New York City is the second effort in the past year to form a union at Amazon, the country’s largest online retailer. In April, workers at an Alabama facility refused to form a union led by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

The union campaign in New York City is operating without the help of a national sponsor and is led by a former Amazon employee, Christian Smalls, who organized a walkout to protest working conditions just hours after he said They were fired.

Organizers are required to collect signatures from at least 30% of workers — about 7,000 at four Staten Island warehouses — who will be covered by the resulting collective bargaining agreement.

“We’ll get it by Monday. I’m going there today, going there tomorrow, the next day – until we get it,” said Smalls, who was elected as the newborn union president on Sunday. Was.

Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said company employees have a choice whether or not to join a union, but “we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees.”

“We have made a lot of progress in recent years and months in important areas like pay and security,” Nantel said. “There are so many things we can keep doing better, and that’s what our focus is on – keep getting better every day.”

If the NLRB approves the signings in Staten Island, it would mark the second unionization vote at an Amazon warehouse in less than a year.

Receive breaking news alerts in Free Granthshala News App |

The first election in Bessemer, Alabama drew nationwide attention and shed light on how Amazon treats its employees. It was the largest union push in Amazon’s 26-year history and only the second time that an organized effort from within the company came to a vote. However, there may be an over vote in Alabama.

A hearing officer for the NLRB found in August that Amazon had potentially interfered with the election. And the RWDSU is now awaiting the decision of the Regional Director of NLRB whether the hearing officer’s guidance will be approved or not. But even with the second election, labor experts say a union victory is a long shot.

Unionization efforts at Amazon reflect calls for more change among hourly workers across Corporate America as the pandemic gives employees more leverage to fight for better working conditions and pay. Workers have called for a nationwide strike at Kellogg’s US grain plants as well as Deere & Co., Frito-Lay and Nabisco facilities.

“Worker dissatisfaction goes far beyond Amazon,” said UCLA Labor Center director Kent Wong. “Employees are feeling the pinch. They’re feeling tremendous economic insecurity and they know that corporate leaders at Amazon are making record profits. There’s a lot of discontent that can fuel support for this campaign.”

Employees at other Amazon facilities are closely following developments in New York City. Smalls said he is in discussions with other potential union organizers in about a dozen Amazon locations.

Amazon employees have complained about long working hours, insufficient breaks and safety, with Smalls and others comparing the working conditions to modern sweatshops. The employee turnover rate has also been a cause for concern.

“That’s our focus — creating a better working environment for Amazon employees,” said Derrick Palmer, another union organizer who has worked with Amazon for the past six years. “They are working 10 to 12 hours a day and 10 hours on their feet.”