Starting Friday, workers at the largest Staten Island Amazon warehouse will begin casting ballots on whether to form a union. If they vote to organize, they will form the first-ever Amazon union in the United States.
Patricia Campos-Medina, executive director of the Worker Institute at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, says the Staten Island union vote is just the beginning of efforts to reform Amazon, and even with anti-union tactics thrown at them, these workers are committed to fighting to gain a voice for the essential work they perform as part of Amazon’s global supply chain.
“As long as Amazon plays an outsize influence in shaping the working conditions for the retail, distribution and the logistics industry, workers will continue to demand that Amazon respect their right to have a union. A union would allow workers to negotiate for their wages, working conditions and how Amazon invests in the local communities where they open facilities.
“From Bessemer to Staten Island, to the Newark Airport, communities are uniting in their demand that Amazon respect the rights of workers. Calls are also out for Amazon to invest in local communities by providing good jobs, climate justice and community benefit agreements negotiated directly with locals – not just elected officials.
“Amazon continues to use anti-union tactics to crush union activity in their facilities, but the re-vote in Bessemer plus the new vote scheduled in Staten Island, N.Y., both demonstrate that workers are committed to the fight to gain dignity and a voice on the job for the essential work they perform as part of Amazon’s global supply chain.
“Efforts to launch a coordinate union approach to organize Amazon are nascent and as worker’s demands increase, more and more unions will join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and the Teamsters in their efforts to balance the scales of corporate power in favor of worker justice.
“Ultimately, what we need at large international corporations like Amazon is not an enterprise level strategy driven by local unions, but a sectoral bargaining strategy driven by region and policy makers. Workers’ courage at Staten Island is just the beginning of the efforts to reform Amazon.”