On Monday, hundreds of Amazon workers at a Staten Island sorting facility known as LDJ5 will begin voting on whether or not to organize with the Amazon Labor Union, the newly formed union created by a group of current and former Amazon warehouse employees in the region.
The ALU successfully organized a union at a larger Amazon plant across the street just weeks ago, creating the first US union in the tech giant’s 27-year history. This time around, the ALU election caught the attention of Democratic labor leaders. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are both scheduled to meet with workers on Staten Island on Sunday. Sara Nelson, president of the AFL-CIO’s Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, is scheduled to attend an ALU rally on Sunday.
The first test of that will come this week, when workers get the chance to vote in the next election, which will be held in the LDJ5 parking lot and ends on Friday.
The ALU’s organizing efforts were first sparked by tensions between Amazon and its warehouse workers during the unprecedented coronavirus public health crisis, where some workers and union rights advocates have expressed concern about to the fact that the company was prioritizing profits and productivity over safety as it sought to keep pace with the outbreak. request for online orders.
In particular, the company took issue with agency pressure for the reinstatement of a JFK8 Amazon employee named Gerald Bryson, who is now an ALU organizer, just before the start of the elections.
Amazon has denied retaliating against Bryson (who first filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB in June 2020) saying he was fired for “sexist verbal assault on a co-worker”, referring to an incident during a demonstration. But in a blow to Amazon this week, an NLRB administrative law judge found the company violated labor laws, ordering Bryson reinstated and paid for his lost wages.
In a statement, Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said, “We strongly disagree with the NLRB judge’s decision,” noting that “Mr. Bryson was fired for bullying, insulted and defamed a co-worker because of a megaphone outside the workplace.” Nantel said the company intends to appeal the judge’s decision.
Frank Kearl, a Make the Road New York staff attorney who represented Bryson in his NLRB case, said in a statement, “This victory should give other workers who are organizing to demand better working conditions reassurance that Amazon is not above the law.
Kerl added: “[Amazon] has been ordered to reinstate Gerald by May 2, these deliberate misrepresentations about him serve no purpose other than to defame his personality.”
The election result at LDJ5 will likely have broader implications for Amazon. While a second win would give ALU’s efforts “a huge boost,” Amazon has more to lose, according to John Logan, professor of labor and employment studies at San State University. Francisco.
“A second loss to Amazon would be far more damaging to the company’s anti-union campaign than a loss to ALU would be to future organizing efforts at Amazon,” said Logan, who noted that the support of Democratic union leaders is also important. “It sends the message that workers won’t be fighting alone to get a union and a contract at Amazon and makes it clear that Amazon will not be able to undermine the union with impunity.”