Amazon workers in New York City vote to form first union at retail giant

Amazon workers at a processing plant in Staten Island, New York, won a historic vote on Friday to form the first-ever collective bargaining unit at the e-commerce giant.

By 2,654 votes in favor and 2,131 against, the overwhelming victory will allow more than 8,000 workers at the facility to join the Amazon Labor Union. ALU was founded last year by Chris Smalls, a process assistant at the warehouse Dismissed March 2020 for organizing protests via Amazons COVID-19 logs.

“Amazon wanted me to be the face of the whole union effort against them… fine, there you go!” Smalls wrote on Twitter just before the vote count was over. “We worked, had fun and made history.”

According to the National Labor Relations Board, 8,325 employees at the facility were eligible to vote. Both sides have contested 67 ballots, not enough to affect the outcome. The NLRB said the union and Amazon now have seven days to contest the bottom line.

An Amazon spokesman told CBS News that they were disappointed with the results. “We are reviewing our options, including filing objections based on the NLRB’s improper and improper influence that we and others (including the National Retail Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) have experienced in this election,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Boost for work

The victory is expected to resonate across the country as union activists have long campaigned to unionize workers at Amazon, the country’s second largest private employer. In another victory for workers, workers at seven Starbucks stores have voted for a union in recent months, including one at the coffee chain Hometown Seattle, Washington. Workers at more than 150 Starbucks stores have registered with the NLRB to hold union elections.

The ALU’s list of demands for Amazon calls for immediate changes in health and safety guidelines, as well as higher wages, more promotions and better working conditions. The union is calling on Amazon to increase workers’ wages by 7.5% to match inflation, reintroduce 20-minute breaks and provide a shuttle for workers.

The union victory comes the day after the vote count was completed the second union election at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. About 52% of workers voted against unionization in this election, but a large number of contested ballots could affect the outcome.

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