Progressives like AOC already succeeded in stopping Amazon from opening one of 2 new coastal “HQs” in Queens, mostly because the company retaliated against New York politicians who backed her push to cancel billions in Amazon tax credits with blatant misinformation like claiming the company was essentially being subsidized by state tax revenues (that’s not how tax incentives work).
But where are all the city’s champaigne socialists now that workers at a Staten Island Amazon distribution hub, the company’s only one in NYC, are organizing the latest attempt to unionize an Amazon warehouse, while workers in Bessemer Alabama are gearing up for a re-vote now that one has been approved by the NLRB?
To wit, the NYT reported Thursday that 2,500 workers at JFK8, the Staten Island facility, had signed a petition to unionize, and filed it with the NLRB.
And instead of joining the Teamsters, like the workers in Bessemer are trying to do, workers at JFK8 are pushing to form their own union that they hope will be unique for Amazon, eventually attracting workers at other warehouses to join and start up their own labor-relations entity. The group first filed a petition in October to unionize in October, but withdrew it quickly after.
Kayla Blado, the press secretary for the agency, confirmed that the group had filed the petition.
The effort is being organized by current and former Amazon workers aiming to form a new independent union, called the Amazon Labor Union.
It focuses on Amazon’s only fulfillment center in New York City, known as JFK8, which employs more than 5,000 people.
Amazon Labor Union had initially filed for an election in October at JFK8 and three nearby Amazon buildings, but it withdrew the petition several weeks later after organizers said the labor board told them they did not have enough signatures of current employees to proceed. The New York Times reported that turnover at the company was about 150 percent a year even before the pandemic increased attrition.
By now focusing just on JFK8, “we are taking a different approach,” said Christian Smalls, a former Amazon worker who is leading the effort. “We are hoping that not only do we have more than enough, but we have more than enough that are still employed.”
The news came shortly before reports that Amazon had reached an agreement with the NLRB about internal corporate communications that will supposedly make it easier for Amazon workers to organize. An Amazon rep didn’t immediately respond to the WSJ‘s request for comment on the agreement.
Amazon says he doesn’t believe the union organizers have enough signatures to meet the NLRB’s threshold, which is 30% of workers (in this case, JFK8 is said to have more than 5,000 employees).
Petitions need at least 30 percent of workers to demonstrate sufficient interest in holding an election, though typically unions file with far more.
Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for Amazon, said in a statement that the company’s “focus remains on listening directly to our employees and continuously improving on their behalf.” She said Amazon continued to doubt the organizers had enough signatures to merit an election.
Turnover at the JFK8 warehouse has reportedly risen to 150%, per the NYT – and that was before the pandemic drove up attrition numbers.
We now wait to see whether CEO Andy Jassy will continue pushing Jeff Bezos’ message of claiming the firm cares deeply about workers’ interests and welfare (while still very un-progressively opposing unionization, sometimes even using underhanded methods and tactics).