Amazon workers in N.Y. vote to form first U.S. union in company’s history in ‘huge shock’
Workers at the Amazon warehouse on Staten Island voted decisively to form the first U.S. union in the mammoth multinational company’s history, according to a count of the historic labor election completed Friday.
The election was instantly viewed as a possible watershed moment for the American labor movement, which has weakened in recent decades.
“Weakened?” WEAKENED?! There are many, many more accurate words I can think of to describe what has happened to U.S. labor movements and unions: decimated, demolished, shattered, destroyed, conquered and obliterated are just some of them. I guess the Daily News misplaced its thesaurus today?
Christian Smalls, a fired Amazon worker who objected to the 27-year-old company’s COVID protocols, led the recently created Amazon Labor Union to the victory over the Seattle retail giant, which is known for pulverizing labor efforts by inundating workers with anti-union messaging.
“Pulverizing.” See? Much better.
At the New York warehouse, a fulfillment facility known as JFK8, management hung “Vote No” banners on the walls and held required union-busting meetings. But the workers would not be denied.
“Amazon has proven willing to put basically unlimited resources into anti-union campaigns, and these workers really won against all odds,” said Rebecca Givan, a labor studies professor at Rutgers University. “It’s really a historic victory and probably a huge shock to Amazon.”
You can read more here (@ NY Daily News).
One of the takeaways that struck me is the social media angle. While America’s Owners have developed and deployed extremely effective union-busting tactics (“required union-busting meetings”… WTF is with that?), the organizers here:
led a creative labor push that leveraged social media, including Twitter and TikTok, to succeed at the city’s lone Amazon fulfillment facility, a place where many workers are relatively young people of color, according to The City news outlet. “This is Gen Z,” Smalls, 33, told the outlet.
This suggests to me that there is only a very small window here for labor organizers with younger workforces to succeed in their unionizing efforts, before the Amazons of the world begin using the same platforms to deliver slick, Gen Z-tested, anti-union messaging to neutralize the threat.
If you’re wondering why this is a really big fucking deal, ask yourself this: if unions did not shift meaningful power, e.g. better working conditions, benefits and pay to employees, why would U.S. corporations be willing to put “basically unlimited resources” into crushing them?