New York Amazon Workers Vote to Unionize

A grassroots campaign has led to the company's first labor union.

A grassroots campaign has led to the company’s first labor union.

For the first time in Amazon’s history of operation in the United States, workers at one of its warehouses have officially voted to form a union. The warehouse, located in Staten Island, New York, saw 2,654 votes in favor of joining the union and 2,131 opposed, with the motion ultimately passing.

The union, known as the Amazon Labor Union, was established by Christian Smalls, the former manager of the Staten Island warehouse, who was fired in 2020. Through a wildly successful grassroots and campaign and crowdfunding push, Smalls successfully established the union and negotiated a collective bargaining agreement for all of its members. This was despite the fact that Amazon took multiple measures to stop and slow Smalls’s progress, ultimately spending roughly $4.3 million in anti-union consultation.

In spite of the vote, labor experts and analytics believe Amazon will continue to attempt to stonewall the union and prevent any new negotiations from occuring.

“Amazon will delay,” said David Rosenfeld, a labor lawyer at Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld, and a lecturer at the University California at Berkeley School of Law. “They’re not going to walk in and do the right thing because that will encourage organizing everywhere else. They’ll do everything they can to avoid a contract, and it will be a big, long, nasty fight.”

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