In April, a group of Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York, managed to vote in favor of a union, becoming the first ever American union within the company. They have since shown their support for other campaigns, the latest in two additional warehouses.
The worker-led union, Amazon Labor Union, has reached agreements to help workers organize and provide financial assistance to workers attempting to unionize in warehouses in Albany, New York and Campbellsville, Kentucky, both of which will be affiliated as formal branches of the union, according to ALU President Chris Smalls.
Recent developments show how worker-led union campaigns are growing, which experts say raises the possibility that the victory of the ALU could promote unionization in other warehouses.
However, they warn that the size of Amazon’s warehouses and Amazon’s well-equipped anti-union efforts will continue to be a major obstacle to many union campaigns.
“This shows workers are coming together,” said ALU co-founder Jordan Flowers. “These workers want to see a union now, and they’re choosing ALU.”
The ALU collaborations were first reported by More Perfect Union. Meanwhile, employees in Garner, North Carolina are currently in talks with them as a third location, according to Amazon warehouse worker Ryan Brown.
“We’re going to assist them 100%,” said Chris Smalls. “Whatever they need: resources, money, going out there.”
Amazon continues to voice its opposition to labor campaigns, with spokeswoman Kelly Nantel sharing a statement.
“Our employees have the choice of whether or not to join a union. They always have,” said Nantel. “As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answers for our employees. Our focus remains on working directly to continue making Amazon a great place to work.”
The ALU was powered by a GoFundMe page that ran a month-long campaign at the 6,000-employee Staten Island warehouse, becoming one of the biggest job-earners in the United States in recent times.
Although they prevailed, Amazon filed an objection to the National Labor Relations Board to overturn the finding, arguing that NLRB officials were biased towards workers and union leaders who bribed colleagues to get their support. The ALU denied the claims as the NLRB hearings continue today.
In May, the ALU lost a second union election at another Staten Island warehouse. The partnerships with Albany and Campbellsville are the first union campaigns after the Staten Island union.
Warehouse worker Matt Littrell said workers wanted Amazon to adjust to the demanding work pace and uncomfortable heat in the building.
“The same issues come up time and time again, and they have for many years, yet the management is very apathetic towards those,” said Littrell. “We wanted to go with a union made up of workers and people who understand our unique environment.”