June 21, 2022 — Three days ago, World-Outlook published “Amazon Seeks to Prevent Certification of Union at NY Warehouse.” The article reported on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) hearing considering Amazon’s objections to certifying the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) as the choice of workers at JFK8, the company’s 8,000-strong warehouse in Staten Island, New York. The ALU won a landmark victory in a union representation election there on April 1. Amazon’s goal is to overturn the election results. If that is not possible, the corporate giant hopes to delay the NLRB’s final certification of the ALU as the bargaining agent for JFK8 workers, thus weakening ALU’s efforts to win a decent contract there. The NLRB’s Region 29 Brooklyn office, which oversaw the election, ruled the ALU the winner. The federal labor board, however, and the entire process of “mediation” it supervises, has been no friend of labor since the U.S. government established the agency over 85 years ago.
PHOENIX, Arizona, June 13, 2022 — The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) opened a hearing here today on Amazon’s objections to the landmark victory of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) at JFK8, the company’s giant fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York. The ALU — a newly formed union led by young workers at the 8,000-employee facility — won a representation election on April 1. Amazon has challenged the outcome of the vote. Amazon’s lawyers said they plan to call “dozens and dozens” of witnesses and expect the hearing to go on for “the next several weeks.” In doing so, Amazon’s attorneys revealed the company’s strategy of trying to prolong the proceeding’s duration as long as possible. At this point, it is up in the air when the hearing may end.
On May 4, 2022, Amazon fired Amazon Labor Union (ALU) organizer Mat Cusick, who worked at DYY6, the company’s delivery station in its Staten Island, New York, complex. This is an interview Cusick gave to World-Outlook reported Mark Satinoff on May 12.
This is a statement by Amazon Labor Union (ALU) organizer Tristan “Lion” Dutchin, who was fired by Amazon on May 7, 2022. Dutchin worked at JFK8, the company’s giant fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York, where the ALU won a landmark union representation election on April 1. As part of his efforts to help secure this historic victory, Dutchin, who is also an artist, has written and performed a number of pro-union songs. Three days earlier, on May 4, Amazon fired another ALU organizer, Mat Cusick, who worked at DYY6, the company’s delivery station in its Staten Island complex. We also publish here the link to a May 11 Democracy Now interview with both workers, who explain the retaliatory character of Amazon’s actions.
BROOKLYN, New York, May 2, 2022 — “We lost this battle, but we’ll win the war,” Michael Aguilar told fellow Amazon Labor Union (ALU) members, union supporters, and the media this grey, rainy afternoon. An Amazon worker at LDJ5, the company’s sorting facility in Staten Island, New York, Aguilar was speaking to those gathered outside the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) office here today. The labor board had just announced the ALU lost the union representation election at LDJ5.The final tally was 380 votes in favor to 618 against the union, and 2 voided ballots. Of the 1,633 workers eligible to vote, 1,000 cast ballots. This means 38% of the LDJ5 workers backed the ALU, compared to 55% at JFK8.
STATEN ISLAND, New York — “Be a part of something truly great,” said Amazon Labor Union (ALU) treasurer Maddie Wesley. “Be part of a movement,” she added, urging her 1,600 coworkers at LDJ5, Amazon’s sort facility here, to vote for the ALU in the representation election taking place April 25-29. “This is just the beginning. This is a call for all of you to join our brothers and sisters… at JFK8 and join ALU Local #1!” Speaking at a spirited pre-election rally here on Sunday, April 24, Wesley was referring to Amazon’s giant fulfillment center, employing about 8,000 people, where the ALU won a landmark vote on April 1. The victory of the ALU, an independent worker-led union, has inspired many in the labor movement and beyond. The atmosphere here on Sunday afternoon was electric. ALU president Chris Smalls chaired the rally of about 300 people who came together to urge a “Yes” vote the day before the election began. Four workers at LDJ5 addressed those gathered and expressed cautious optimism about the ALU’s chances of unionizing a second Amazon facility.
STATEN ISLAND, New York — At an April 8 press conference — more like a workers’ rally — here, Amazon Labor Union (ALU) organizers called on union members and supporters to focus their efforts over the next two weeks on winning the upcoming union vote at LDJ5. This is Amazon’s sort facility across the street from JFK8, the company’s giant fulfillment center employing 8,000 workers, where the ALU just won a landmark union election. The ALU urged everyone to join an April 24 rally in front of LD5. While describing the key lessons of how a team of rank-and-file workers organized Amazon’s first warehouse in the U.S., ALU members also drew attention to the main tasks ahead: the election campaign at LDJ5, beating Amazon’s challenge to the JFK8 victory, unifying the workforce to fight for a contract, and a nationwide organizing campaign.
These are the lyrics of three union songs written by Tristan “Lion” Dutchin, and videos of their performances. The Amazon Labor Union (ALU) organizer sung the first two with fellow organizer Justine Medina at an April 8, 2022, ALU press conference outside LDJ5, Amazon’s sort center on Staten Island, New York, where a union vote is set to take place April 25-29. Tristan performed the third song, “Election Time,” at a February 22, 2022, ALU fundraiser held at the People’s Forum in New York City. The artist sent the lyrics and the “Election Time” video clip to World-Outlook. We are publishing them because of their artistic value and the inspiration they continue to provide to ALU’s magnificent organizing campaigns.
This is a Reporters’ Notebook. It is based on conversations World-Outlook reporter Mark Satinoff held with Amazon Labor Union (ALU) members on April 1, 2022, outside the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Brooklyn, New York. Satinoff interviewed the Amazon workers in the hours leading up to the announcement of ALU’s monumental victory in the union election at JFK8 — the company’s giant fulfillment center in the New York City area, a key market for Amazon. The interviews point to how Amazon workers organized themselves to make this victory possible. They also outline the union’s next steps ahead, detailing how these workers plan to carry out the ALU pledge in the union’s recent newsletter, which says: “With this first historic victory in the record books, we now turn our attention to the election campaign at LDJ5, the bargaining process for the unionized workers at JFK8, and our nationwide organizing and training campaign launching soon. If you work at Amazon, anywhere in the country, and you want to unionize your workplace, get in touch. We are here to support and empower our coworkers everywhere. When we unite together, we win. Hasta la victoria siempre.” — ALU Newsletter #16
BROOKLYN, NY, April 1, 2022—Workers at JFK8, Amazon’s giant warehouse on Staten Island, voted by a large margin for representation by the Amazon Labor Union. It is the most significant union organizing victory in the United States in decades—a milestone for the labor movement. According to the NLRB, 2,654 workers voted for representation by the ALU and 2,131 against. This means that nearly 55% of the 4,785 workers who cast ballots voted yes, and 45% no—a 10 percent margin of victory. “Today the people have spoken, and the people wanted a union,” ALU president Chris Smalls told supporters. Smalls uncorked a bottle of champagne outside the NLRB offices when the final tally came through.
STATEN ISLAND, New York, March 20, 2022 — “We will win! We will win!” reverberated across the main entrance to Amazon’s JFK8 giant fulfillment center this afternoon. About 300 Amazon warehouse workers and their supporters rallied here to boost the efforts by the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) to win representation for more than 7,000 workers employed at JFK8. Workers will vote in person March 25-30 in a large tent set up in front of the facility.
NEW YORK CITY, March 7, 2022—The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has certified that the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) has collected enough signatures to get an election at LDJ5. This is the second fulfillment center of the retail giant in this area where workers have secured the right to a union vote. An upcoming NLRB hearing on March 14 will hash out the logistics of the LDJ5 election, according to ALU president Christian Smalls.
NEW YORK CITY, February 23, 2022 — “This is our moment in history. We will carry this down to our children and our children’s’ children. We have been organizing for two years in the rain, snow, ice storms, and heat. We’re going to beat this trillion-dollar company and we’re broke as hell,” said Chris Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU). “I won’t sleep for the next 35 days. We’ve got to stay together. We’re going to win this!” Smalls was addressing about 70 people at an ALU fundraiser at the People’s Forum in midtown Manhattan on February 18. The event was also a celebration of a step forward by the workers in their union organizing drive. A day earlier, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) set March 25-30 as the dates for a union representation election to take place in person at JFK8. This is Amazon’s main fulfillment center in the New York City area employing about 5,500 workers. The ALU is a grassroots group organized by warehouse workers with no affiliation to any established national trade union. In addition to JFK8, ALU is seeking to organize Amazon’s other three adjacent facilities on Staten Island: LDJ5, DYY6, and DYX2. In fact, on February 2, as the NLRB certified that the ALU had filed enough signatures to secure a union vote at JFK8, organizers filed petitions seeking a union representation election at LDJ5.
November 15, 2021—The Amazon Labor Union (ALU) withdrew its request for a union representation election at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouses on November 12. The ALU had filed its petition for a union vote with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on October 25. The NLRB has approved the withdrawal request.
This is a Reporter’s Notebook based on a November 3, 2021, visit by World-Outlook editor Argiris Malapanis to the Amazon Labor Union organizing tent in front of the JFK8 Amazon fulfillment center on Staten Island, New York. It is a supplement to the news article “NY Amazon Workers File for Union Recognition,” published on World-Outlook November 4, 2021. It paints a more detailed picture of how rank-and-file workers lead this impressive unionization effort.
NEW YORK CITY, November 3, 2021—Amazon warehouse workers in New York took a big step toward unionization on October 25, when they filed more than 2,000 signatures with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking a union representation election. World-Outlook visited the union organizing center and spoke with Chris Smalls and other workers.
The Amazon Labor Union (ALU), a grassroots group organized by warehouse workers, is leading the organizing drive. With no affiliation to any of the established national trade unions, the ALU is trying to unionize the approximately 7,000 workers employed in four warehouses—the JFK8 on Staten Island and surrounding facilities dubbed LDJ5, DYY6 and DYX2. Amazon uses these warehouses to fulfill orders in the huge New York market.
If successful, the outcome will reverberate through the working class and labor movement in the United States. These workers know they are challenging a powerful enemy.
DENVER, CO, June 7, 2021—On May 6, Amazon worker Linda Rodriguez filed a complaint with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment for Amazon’s “systematic failure to comply with even the most basic safety precautions necessary to protect her and her co-workers from exposure to the [Covid-19] virus” at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. “Amazon just wanted to pressure people to keep coming to work during the pandemic, even though we were terrified, and they didn’t tell us whether we’d been exposed and didn’t even explain to my Spanish-speaking co-workers…that they shouldn’t come to work if they were sick.”
Mar. 26, 2021— Workers in Bessemer, Alabama, are engaged in one of the most important union-organizing drives in recent years. Their goal is to win representation by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) at the giant Amazon warehouse there. Voting by mail by the 5,805 workers began in February. It closes March 29. The outcome can have far-reaching implications for the working class and the labor movement in the United States.