After Amazon workers successfully unionized at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, a flood of Amazon workers across the country contacted the union about organizing their own workplaces, according to the union’s president.
Amazon Labor Union (ALU) leader Christian Smalls wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that workers at over 50 locations have contacted the union since their win on Friday.
“Since we WON [ALU] has been contacted by workers in over 50 buildings nationwide, not including the several buildings overseas and counting,” Smalls said.
Workers at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island voted in favor of unionizing with a 55 percent “yes” vote. The union won by over 500 votes, with a vote count of 2,654 to 2,131. Over 8,000 employees work at the warehouse.
It was a stunning win for ALU, an independent union that was formed last year with no affiliation to a major organization. Smalls said it was the leadership of the union’s organizing team that brought them the victory, and sarcastically thanked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for the win.
“We want to thank Jeff Bezos for going to space, because when he was up there, we was signing people up,” Smalls said in a speech after the victory.
ALU is also in the process of organizing LDJ5, a second warehouse in New York City. About 1,500 employees work at LDJ5; those workers will soon get their own union election after filing for one in February.
When workers in Bessemer, Alabama, began unionizing with the Retail, Warehouse and Department Store Union (RWDSU), the RWDSU similarly said that over 1,000 workers had contacted the union about organizing last year.
Bessemer workers’ first attempt at unionizing failed; the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered a second union election for the warehouse because Amazon illegally interfered with the first campaign, the labor board said. The results of the second election, which the NLRB began counting last week, were too close to call on Friday. The final result will come down to roughly 400 challenged ballots, the eligibility of which will be determined by the NLRB in the coming weeks.
However, the fact that workers are eager to contact the union is an indication that the union campaign may spread to Amazon warehouses and workplaces across the country, especially now that workers in New York have shown that it can be done despite aggressive union busting from the company.
As the labor movement undergoes a resurgence, public support for unions is growing. A Gallup poll found last year that support for labor unions in the U.S. is at 65 percent, the highest point since 1965.
Still, the path ahead for ALU may be difficult. As labor reporter Steven Greenhouse noted in The Atlantic, ALU’s independent status is part of its strength but could also be a weakness if the union isn’t able to gather enough resources and infrastructure to be able to organize other warehouses.
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