Amazon workers in a Staten Island warehouse complex filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board’s regional office in Brooklyn, requesting an election to create a union.
The Amazon Labor Union is led by Chris Smalls, a former Amazon employee who was dismissed in March 2020 after organizing a demonstration about the absence of protective equipment and hazard pay for warehouse employees during the outset of the Covid-19 outbreak.
It is the latest in a series of attempts by a tiny but vocal group of Amazon’s 950,000 US employees to organize in order to seek improved working conditions.
At around 2 p.m. Monday, Smalls and a few Amazon employees delivered the petition in person to the NLRB’s regional office 29 in downtown Brooklyn (capacity inside the office limited the number of people allowed to enter).
Some wore clothes that resembled the tracksuits worn by characters in the television program “Money Heist.”
Smalls and other organizers formed a committee and spent the last six months collecting signed union authorization cards from over 2,000 workers at four Staten Island warehouses, including Amazon’s JFK8 facility, where Smalls worked for five years before being fired, as well as three other nearby adjacent facilities.
They must have at least 30% of workers across the four warehouses sign authorization cards to be qualified for an NLRB election and a simple majority to win.
The demand for an election comes in the midst of “Striketober,” when employees around the country go to the picket lines to protest stagnating salaries and dangerous working conditions aggravated by the pandemic.
This year has seen 184 strikes, including more than 10,000 John Deere employees who went on strike earlier this month, as well as Kellogg’s plant workers.
The organizers hope that by partnering with established union businesses, their independent union would have more success than past attempts to unionize, such as in Bessemer, Alabama, where employees voted against creating a union with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union in April.
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