Amazon Labour Union Vote Gets Underway in New York

Below hazy skies and in the calm of morning, staff waited patiently in line exterior the JFK8 warehouse Friday for a say on whether or not to ascertain Amazon’s first US labour union.

The six-day election on the Staten Island warehouse, overseen by US officers, opens the polls to the power’s 5,000 staff for 5 hours every morning after which once more in the night for an additional five-hour spherical.

Led by former and present staff, Amazon Labour Union (ALU) certified for a vote on unionisation after acquiring signatures from 30 p.c of the workforce.

However majority assist might be wanted if Amazon is to have its first union because the firm was established in 1994.

Many of the staff who spoke with AFP shortly after the polls first opened Friday weren’t in favor of the marketing campaign.

“The pay is more than minimum wage, we have benefits like health insurance from day one, and if I need something, I go directly to my manager,” mentioned Georgina Aponte, who was voting no.

Every morning, Aponte, 40, takes a ferry, a subway and two buses from her Bronx house to Amazon. The journey takes two hours every means.

“I like working here,” she mentioned.

Others expressed sympathy with the objectives of the union, however skepticism concerning the group’s unproven observe report.

“I give them a lot of credit for doing what they’re doing,” mentioned Vinny T., earlier than including, “I think we have more to lose than gain.”

The Amazon job is “not that difficult,” mentioned the 57-year-old, who has labored in different unionized corporations earlier than.

Firm texts Vote ‘NO’

One other employee, Angel Arce, mentioned he’s not loopy about the truth that Amazon’s pay scale doesn’t increase wages after three years.

However “they are not experienced,” Arce mentioned of the union.

Natalie Monarrez got here to vote holding an indication that learn “I joined ALU, I left ALU, I’m voting NO.”

Monarrez, who has labored for Amazon for 5 years, joined the marketing campaign in Might 2021 shortly after the group shaped, however gave up on the ALU in January.

“We absolutely need a union,” Monarrez mentioned.

“We’re working for the richest man on the planet, literally,” Monarrez mentioned of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who sits close to the highest of Forbes’ billionaire listing.

“The least they can do is give us a living wage and at least address the issues like harassment, discrimination, ageism, lack of promotions, lack of opportunity,” she mentioned.

However Monarrez mentioned staff want an “experienced national union,” not a “small independent union that’s run by boys who have no experience.”

At a close-by bus cease, separated by the warehouse fence-line, stood Christian Smalls, the president of the ALU, who had been available since 7 am.

Smalls, 33, was fired in March 2020 after organising a marketing campaign to demand private protecting gear in the course of the top of COVID-19.

He dismissed the criticism over his observe report.

Massive nationwide unions “had 28 years to do something,” he mentioned.

If staff are ready for a longtime group to return alongside, “they are going to wait a long time,” he added.

Smalls mentioned he’s hopeful concerning the vote and a couple of second election at one other Amazon facility in Staten Island subsequent month.

The corporate has been holding conferences with staff in an effort to remain union-free.

“They are telling us to vote no,” mentioned a younger male employee who has sat for 30-minute weekly conferences the final three weeks.

The employee, who didn’t wish to give his identify, additionally has obtained “No” texts from the corporate, in addition to a name from the ALU.

“They were fair,” the employee mentioned of the union, including that he voted “yes.”

The vote rely is anticipated to start out on March 31 and will take so long as a number of days.

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