Recently, headlines were made when the first-ever union of Amazon employees was approved for a group of warehouse workers in Staten Island, but now, Amazon has filed to appeal that very approval. Here’s everything you need to know about the situation, and why it matters.
On Friday, April 8, Amazon filed a long list of objections to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Among other complaints, the retail giant alleged that the newly formed union, the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), had been harassing employees who did not join them, trespassing on Amazon property and even incentivizing joining the union by claiming Amazon would not be giving employee benefits to those who didn’t join.
However, Amazon’s largest argument is against the NLRB itself, claiming the board gave the ALU preferential treatment and took action against Amazon before any legal decision had been reached.
John Logan, chair of the labor and employment studies department at San Francisco State University, spoke about the situation to The Washington Post, a publication owned by Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos. “Amazon probably figures it has nothing to lose by exhausting every possible appeals process because time is on its side,” says Logan.
Logan’s words may have merit, but the NLRB still allowed Amazon an extension until April 22 to collect evidence that will back its accusations.
While Amazon is claiming there was a low turnout for the vote that decided on the unionization of the warehouse employees, the ALU celebrates their win — a victory that was decided by a hefty difference of 500 votes in favor of the union.
Christian Smalls, the ALU’s 33-year-old president, had actually been fired in March 2020 after organizing a walkout against the company’s lackluster COVID-19 protocols.
“I believe the change is now,” Smalls said in a podcast episode with The Wall Street Journal. “We’re not going to be used and abused and exploited anymore.”
ALU Vice President of Membership, Connor Spence, blamed a lack of humanity on Amazon’s end in an interview with Spectrum News NY1.
“A lot of people here don’t have time for anything outside of work, they don’t have lives,” says Spence. “The pay, Amazon says it’s competitive, but it’s really not. Most people here work full time for the richest company on Earth, more than full time, and they still need a second job.”