Amazon Workers Start Voting Union at Another Staten Island Facility

About 1,500 workers at an Amazon sorting center in Staten Island will qualify to vote this week in an election that could form the company’s second union in the US.

This month, an Amazon warehouse with more than 8,000 employees in Staten Island, vote to unionizeAlthough it supports the union by a margin of more than 10 percent, Amazon try to overthrow conclusion.

If workers at the smaller facility, known as LDJ5, vote to unionize, they will likewise join the Amazon Labor Union. independent, worker-led union This repository was successful. Votes will be counted from Monday, May 2nd.

Madeline Wesley, treasurer of the Amazon Labor Union, speaking at a rally outside the plant on Sunday, said a union was necessary because part-time workers on whom the plant is heavily dependent are not getting enough hours to support themselves.

Working hours “do not depend on what workers want or need,” said Ms. Wesley, who works at LDJ5. “It is based on what Amazon thinks is most efficient at the expense of workers.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding employee complaints about the timing.

In an interview at the rally, Ms. Wesley said she expected LDJ5 to be easier to organize after the union’s victory at the warehouse, but Amazon had been aggressive in persuading workers to vote no.

Ms Wesley said the union’s prospects “seemed bleak a few weeks ago, but no one gave up”. “They persevered and kept talking to their coworkers. The mood of the building has changed dramatically. I think we have a good chance.”

However, the union faces hurdles, such as the shorter time it takes to organize workers at the polling station, and the fact that many of the group’s senior officials and organizers work at the larger facility known as JFK8, giving them less direct access. To the workers at LDJ5.

In addition, many unions find it more difficult to organize workplaces with a large proportion of part-time workers who can invest less in organizing campaigns.

Workers who will go to the sorting center for a four-hour shift and often travel 30 to 60 minutes in each direction tend to be “a particular group of people who are really struggling to succeed,” says longtime employee Gene Bruskin. organizer who advised the Amazon Labor Union in the two Staten Island elections.

Mr Bruskin, known for supervising successful campaign In 2008, at a massive Smithfield meat processing plant, he added: “When you have this kind of workforce, it’s really tough. There are many people who can have an ‘it’s just a part time job, I won’t stay here’ attitude. It’s an uphill struggle.”

Mr Bruskin and other workers’ officials are working to help overcome these challenges by enlisting the help of organizers from other unions who have stepped in to make phone calls, schedule meetings with workers, and talk to workers off-site.

Uriel Concepción, who works four-hour shifts at the plant, said in an interview on Sunday that the union would improve working conditions there. Mr. Concepción said 16 hours a week were not enough to pay the bills at home with his family, but Amazon never accepted repeated requests for full-time work.

Eric Barrios, another worker at the plant, said in an interview that he was undecided whether to support the union. Mr. Barrios said he also worked 16 hours a week and could not get more hours, but was concerned that some of the union’s goals were unrealistic.

“Some of the things they say are very exaggerated, for example, a pay $30 per hourMr. Barrios said at the rally on Sunday. “I’m here to see if I can swing.”

Although most attendees did not work at the facility, the rally attracted crowds of more than 100.

Still, the momentum of this month’s victory seems to have sparked greater support for the union campaign among outsiders. Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, and Sara Nelson, president of the Flight Attendants Association, attended the rally Sunday afternoon.

“I was seriously inspired,” Ms. Nelson told the attendees, adding, “This unity is the answer to my prayers.”

On Sunday morning, Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders and New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, appeared on the site additionally.

“I’m going to Staten Island to show my support for the incredible courage of the Amazon workers who stood up there and defeated one of America’s biggest companies,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview Friday.

He also urged President Biden to take a more active role in supporting union campaigns at Amazon and other companies. StarbucksWhere more than 20 stores have converged since December.

“I made a proposal to the White House – why not hold a meeting with some organizers who have unions that are active now?” said Mr Sanders. “Get an organizer from Starbucks, from Amazon, from other unions that are organizing. Listen to them, learn from them, ask them what they want, how the White House can be supportive.”

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with 1.3 million members, committed himself Unionizing Amazon is crucial to the broader organizing campaign in the company because of its extensive reach and resources. Teamsters president Sean O’Brien talked about spending hundreds of millions of dollars on effort.

Mr O’Brien, president of the Amazon Labor Union, and Christian Smalls, i met this month Discussing how Teamsters can support Amazon employees in closing a contract with Amazon, according to Teamsters.

Another association, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Association, narrowly lost Voting at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama when votes were counted in late March. However, the margin was smaller than the number of votes questioned, leaving the result uncertain.

Karen Weise contributing reporting.

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