Activist company

Amazon workers in the United States vote for the first union in the company’s history | News | DW

Employees of U.S. online retail giant Amazon voted on Friday to unionize a fulfillment center in New York, marking the first U.S.-based union in the company’s history.

Staten Island warehouse workers voted 55% in favor of forming the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), according to a tally by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Previous attempts to unionize employees had been thwarted despite the efforts of union activists who had campaigned against unsafe working conditions at Amazon warehouses.

Union activism has increased in the United States in recent years

historic moment

Federal officials said the tally would not be verified until objections from each side were addressed.

But the vote represents a victory for the independent labor group which faced the second largest private employer in the United States without the support of a larger union.

The ALU celebrated the vote victory on social media, calling itself “the first Amazon union in US history!”

“We are disappointed with the Staten Island election result because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees,” Amazon said after the result.

A similar attempt at another Amazon warehouse last year resulted in workers siding with the company at a two-to-one ratio.

Vote met with celebration

Efforts to unionize the Staten Island site were led by labor organizer and former Amazon employee Christian Smalls. He was greeted with cheers and bubbles of champagne as he and other officials left the NLRB offices after the count arrived.

Staten Island Amazon Center union organizer Chris Smalls celebrates with champagne

Chris Smalls was greeted with joy after winning the vote

“I’m thrilled that we’re making history,” Amazon employee Tristan Dutchin told The Associated Press. “We are about to unionize a multi-billion dollar company. It will be a fantastic time for workers to be surrounded by a better and safer work environment.”

The Biden administration has also expressed support for the move, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying, “The president was happy to see working people making sure their voices are heard when it comes to the issues. important decisions in the workplace”.

President Joe Biden “firmly believes that every worker in every state should have the free and fair choice to join a union and the right to bargain collectively with their employer,” she added.

David Cornfield, a labor expert and professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University, told Reuters the successful vote is a “momentous victory for workers organizing local unions”.

He said the victory in New York would encourage others seeking to organize workplaces across the United States. “There is already a wave [of activism] happen,” he said, “and that will further encourage that. »

ab/nm (Reuters, AP)