This has been a historic year for labor organizing at Amazon (AMZN)—and we should expect to see the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) battling the big retailer right into 2023, ALU President Chris Smalls told Yahoo Finance Live.
“We’re very well-prepared for the long haul of this battle,” he said. “We understand the odds…of getting a company like Amazon to come to the table” are long. “At the same time, we’re in a different point in history when it comes to organizing. Amazon, Apple, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, you name it – all these workers and industries are coming together now. Corporations have no choice but to realize this movement isn’t going to stop and we’re not going to rest until we rightfully get what we deserve.”
The ALU won a historic victory at JFK8, a Staten Island, N.Y., warehouse, in April. However, the union’s lost two elections since, one near Albany, and one at another Staten Island warehouse. These losses are “growing pains,” Smalls told Yahoo Finance.
“The only way we’re going to get Amazon to come to the table is by taking shots and taking risks, and that happens by workers being ready to organize in their respective facilities,” said Smalls. “For us, whatever campaign is ready to go, the Amazon Labor Union is going to throw their support behind it, no matter what…We know that it’s going to take collective action for Amazon to come to the table. So, for us, it’s never unsuccessful. These are growing pains, and we’re going to fight and continue to grow.”
Meanwhile, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel previously said in a statement on the ALU’s lost election in Staten Island: “We’re glad that our teams… were able to have their voices heard. We look forward to continuing to work directly together as we strive to make every day better for our employees.”
‘Same struggle, but a different mission’
When it comes to JFK8, the ALU’s in a holding pattern, awaiting legal certification so that they can to go into bargaining.
“At the current moment, we’re waiting to be certified,” he said. “We’ve been in court … Any time, any day that they certify us, we’re going to immediately put in a bargaining order for Amazon to come to the table as soon as that happens. So, we’re waiting.”
Smalls, in the meantime, is expecting the ALU to continue its own union battles this year. But he insisted it will remain independent for now. Big labor organizations like the Teamsters and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union have been involved unionization efforts at Amazon. But Smalls is planning on steering clear from partnerships.
He added: “The way we organize … our culture was created and solely run by Amazon workers, putting them in the driver’s seat. We have a different mission – the same struggle, but a different mission.”
Allie Garfinkle is a Senior Tech Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @agarfinks.
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