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  • Matthew Spencer - Tech Journalist

Amazon workers voted to join a union in one of the company’s U.S. facilities

The Staten Island warehouse workers of Amazon recently voted to unionise for the first time in the company’s history. We’ve seen workers and employees coming together to achieve a similar goal, but it is the first time for Amazon. The Amazon Labor Union is the name of the organisation. The organisation is keen to discuss work policies and collective bargaining agreements with Amazon.

A professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Tom Kochan, said that the company would have to release a labour relations strategy after the organisation is announced. The Staten Island of New York Shore warehouse workers voted to unionise on Friday.

The decision is truly historic as it marks the first time in U.S. history for an e-commerce giant worker to form a league. It is a significant victory for the domestic labour movement, forcing large companies like Amazon to look toward their workers much more gracefully.

Amazon is the U.S.’s largest private employer, long criticised for its worker policies, lower pay scale, and other controversies. Even after all that, employees couldn’t manage to stand their ground against such a vast platform.

But the Staten Island workers were led by the independent union and a former employee of the Staten Island warehouse. Together, they managed to deploy a successful campaign against the company, breaking many rules set by Amazon against traditional organising. The rules were set to stop workers from gathering momentum in forming something similar to this.

The victory was a big punch in the face of Amazon as it used all its might to keep organised labour off its premises. The Staten Island warehouse, also known as JFK8, had over 2,654 votes to form the union. Two thousand one hundred thirty-one opposing votes were also received, along with 67 ballots being changed for some circumstances.

Until last year, nothing called the Amazon Labor Union was in existence. But after crowdfunding campaigns and organisations showed backside to their employees, not negotiating fueled rage among workers. The collective bargaining will help approximately 6,000 employees at the largest Amazon fulfilment centre in New York.

Amazon Labor Union was led by Christian Smalls, a former manager at JFK8. He was fired from the company in 2020. Amazon said he violated social distancing rules as the firing reason. Amazon will now have to go through negotiations for its massive network of offices, data centres and warehouses as the leadership for labour is placed.

According to Bloomberg Law, 409 days are required for CBA’s to sign between the newly unionised workers and their employers. The statics are hard to pin down, but private-public collaborative bargaining agreements are necessary when a union is formed.

The unified approach of workers may upset the employers as they’ve built a vast empire out of employee sweat. With the Labor Union created, the Staten Island warehouse camping is the first successful in unionising Amazon workers, breaking traditional rules for the better.

In this age, it is essential to know the rights, and if fighting for the same freedom is required, there is no saying one day or another, it will take place. The same thing happened with Amazon. The vast empire built to serve customers by thousands of workers should be considered.

The Retail, Warehouse and Department Store Union in Bessemer, Ala, confirmed a separate union vote. The union failed to secure the votes needed to unify the workers. A statement by Amazon said they were “disappointed with the outcome of the election in Staten Island” as they believe in a direct relationship with the company.

The victory marks an important step for U.S. labour, which received very few successes. The state is going through unusually tight labour markets. As a result, workers found the power to demand higher wages. Economists gave out mixed reactions to the union creation. According to Federal data, more than 11 million job openings are seen throughout the nation. People swapping jobs for better living conditions is also at an all-time high.


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