Labor Union

Amazon Labor Union (ALU)

Website:

www.amazonlaborunion.org/

Location:

Staten Island, NY

Type:

Labor Union

President:

Christian Smalls

The Amazon Labor Union (ALU) is a small independent labor union that seeks to organize Amazon employees at the company’s warehouse facilities across the United States. As of November 2022, ALU has been successful in certifying a union at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, but has lost certification elections at other Amazon locations in Alabama and elsewhere in New York state.

The New York Times has stated that the union struggled in its early existence while dealing with infighting and the departure and ousting of several key members. The union’s organizing efforts have been assisted by other labor unions and activist groups including the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Teamsters Local 804, Laborers Local 108, and Socialist Alternative. [1] [2] [3]

History

Amazon Labor Union was founded in 2021 by activist Christian (Chris) Smalls, who was fired by Amazon in 2021. The union was formed during a protracted battle between Amazon and the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) over unionizing a facility in Bessemer, Alabama, which failed after multiple votes and appeals to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Following the union’s establishment, the union opened an office in Staten Island and hired two full time employees. [4] [5]

Organizing Campaigns

Amazon Labor Union won an “upset” election when employees at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island voted to recognize the union as their bargaining unit. ALU’s founder Christian Smalls worked at and was fired from the JFK8 warehouse in 2021. The JFK8 unit is ALU’s only local as of November 2022. [6]

Amazon subsequently filed an objection to the election and asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to order another vote. Amazon’s objections included claims that the union “intimidated employees,” “recorded voters in the polling place,” and “distributed marijuana to employees in exchange for their support.” [7]

Challenges from Amazon against the JFK8 election are expected to continue for “years” according to the New York Times. [8]

Following the vote to form a union at the Amazon JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island, the union lost an organizing vote at another warehouse in Staten Island. In October 2022, the union lost a high-profile election at an Amazon warehouse in Albany, New York. [9]

Infighting

In May 2022, an Amazon Labor Union organizer and board member posted on an ALU-associated Substack alleging that the organizer had been expelled from union’s board. The organizer criticized ALU president Christian Smalls for accelerating “a secret consolidation of power” by creating a “code of conduct” for union members that would be enforced by expulsion. [10]

Leadership

Amazon Labor Union was founded in 2021 by activist Christian (Chris) Smalls, who continues to lead the union. Smalls was fired by Amazon in 2021 after staging a walkout protest of the company’s COVID-19 health and safety policies, which he has said he felt were not stringent enough. Amazon has stated that Smalls was fired for failing to quarantine following a COVID-19 exposure, in violation of the company’s policy. [11]

References

  1. Scheiber, Noam and Weise, Karen. “Amazon Labor Union, With Renewed Momentum, Faces Next Test. New York Times. October 11, 2022. Accessed November 4, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/11/business/economy/amazon-labor-union.html ^
  2. “ALU Newsletter #17: Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit.” Amazon Labor Union. May 26, 2022. Accessed November 4, 2022. https://amazonlaborunion.substack.com/p/alu-newsletter-17-have-backbone-disagree ^
  3. Selyukh, Alina. “Amazon loses key step in its attempt to reverse its workers’ historic union vote.” NPR. September 1, 2022. Accessed November 4, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/09/01/1116315891/amazon-loses-key-step-in-its-attempt-to-reverse-its-workers-historic-union-vote ^
  4. Scheiber, Noam and Weise, Karen. “Amazon Labor Union, With Renewed Momentum, Faces Next Test.” New York Times. October 11, 2022. Accessed November 4, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/11/business/economy/amazon-labor-union.html ^
  5. “About.” Amazon Labor Union. Accessed November 4, 2022. https://www.amazonlaborunion.org/about ^
  6. O’Brien, Sara Ashley. “Amazon workers at New York warehouse vote to form company’s first US union.” CNN. April 1, 2022. Accessed November 4, 2022. https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/01/tech/amazon-union-election-staten-island/index.html ^
  7. Clark, Mitchell. “Amazon says union and NLRB ‘suppressed and influenced’ Staten Island election.” The Verge. April 8, 2022. Accessed November 4, 2022. https://www.theverge.com/2022/4/8/23017252/amazon-alu-union-eleciton-objections-filing ^
  8. Scheiber, Noam and Weise, Karen. “Amazon Labor Union, With Renewed Momentum, Faces Next Test.” New York Times. October 11, 2022. Accessed November 4, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/11/business/economy/amazon-labor-union.html ^
  9. Selyukh, Alina. “Amazon workers vote against unionizing at upstate NY warehouse.” NPR. September 1, 2022. Accessed November 4, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/10/18/1128487687/amazon-workers-vote-against-unionizing-at-upstate-ny-warehouse ^
  10. “ALU Newsletter #17: Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit.” Amazon Labor Union. May 26, 2022. Accessed November 4, 2022. https://amazonlaborunion.substack.com/p/alu-newsletter-17-have-backbone-disagree ^
  11. Oladipo, Gloria. “‘The revolution is here’: Chris Smalls’ union win sparks a movement at other Amazon warehouses.” The Guardian. April 6, 2022. Accessed November 4, 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/apr/06/chris-smalls-amazon-union-warehouses ^
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Amazon Labor Union (ALU)


Staten Island, NY