In the Amazon in the United States, a historic victory for the first union

Brendan McDermid via Reuters

Amazon Workers Union (ALU) president Christian Smalls (centre) after his union victory, in New York, US, April 1, 2022.

UNITED STATES – A small group of enthusiastic employees has frustrated one of the largest multinationals: Workers at Amazon’s New York warehouse voted overwhelmingly to form a union on Friday, April 1, the first in the US within the company.

According to a count that was broadcast online, 2,654 employees agreed “yes” to be represented by the Amazon Workers’ Union (ALU), which was created nearly a year ago, while 2,131 voted “no.”

When the results were announced, the small crowd gathered for the occasion applauded at the bottom of the building where the counting took place.

“People have spoken out today, they want a union,” ALU President Christian Smalls said after the result. In front of the press, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, thanked him for going into space, “because while he was there, we were able to make a union.”

For its part, the company expressed in a press release its “disappointment” and said it “evaluated its options.” In particular, Amazon plans to file an appeal against the “improper influence” of the agency responsible for overseeing elections (NLRB).

US President Joe Biden, who never misses an opportunity to praise the work of the country’s labor unions, said he was “happy that employees are making sure they hear important decisions” that matter to them.

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Nearly 5,000 voters

Aaron Novik, who works at an Amazon warehouse in Connecticut and supports the movement by regularly creating new labels, no one believed him. “How did they do it? I don’t know. But people now see that it is possible,” he says with a sign in his hand. “We are not machines, we are human.”

A total of 8,325 workers from the JFK8 warehouse located in the Staten Island area, in a large industrial estate, were on the voter roll, even if some of them no longer work for Amazon. They were called to vote in person in a tent erected in front of the building, from 25 to 30 March. 4,852 people inserted a ballot paper into the ballot box.

The count, conducted by the agency responsible for US labor law (NLRB), began Thursday afternoon.

Amazon, one of the largest employers in the United States, has so far fended off the desires of employees who want to regroup in the country.

The group also faces two other battles. Across the street from the JFK8 warehouse, about 1,500 employees from a sorting center called LDJ5 were invited to vote for or against the creation of another branch of ALU, from April 25-29.

Further south in the country, in Bessemer, Alabama, the RWDSU National Distribution Union, which the staff wanted to join, seemed poised for a possible second contested defeat.

On Thursday evening, “No” submitted 993 ballot papers against 875 “Yes”, but 416 allegedly “disputed” ballot papers remained, which will decide the outcome. A hearing in the coming weeks should decide what to do with these handouts.

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