A demonstrator during the vote count to unionize Amazon workers outside the National Labor Relations Board offices in New York, U.S., on Friday, April 1, 2022.
Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Amazon workers on New York’s Staten Island just made history, becoming the first group to vote in favor of unionizing at a U.S. facility operated by the country’s largest e-commerce company.
After a hard-fought battle, the result is a major defeat for Amazon, which has used all of its might to keep organized labor off its premises. As of Friday, the tally at the Staten Island warehouse, known as JFK8, was 2,654 votes in favor of joining the union and 2,131 opposed, with 67 ballots being challenged.
The fulfillment center doesn’t flip to becoming a union shop overnight, and there’s potentially a long road ahead. But the wheels are in motion for change.
Here’s what happens next:
Delays, challenges and negotiations
The Amazon Labor Union didn’t even exist until last year. Now, the grassroots organization that relied on a crowdfunding campaign to fund its organizing is responsible for negotiating a collective bargaining agreement on behalf of roughly 6,000 employees at Amazon’s largest fulfillment center in New York.
The ALU is led by Christian Smalls, a former JFK8 manager, who was fired by Amazon in 2020 after the company claimed he violated social distancing rules.
Rather than getting to dictate pay, benefits and working conditions as it does across its massive network of offices, data centers and warehouses, Amazon will now have to negotiate those key details with union leadership when it comes to JFK8.
Contract talks between the ALU and Amazon could start soon. But don’t bet on it.
“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…
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