Workers at a US e-commerce giant’s warehouse in New York have voted to allow a union to represent them when dealing with the e-commerce giant’s management.
The American labor movement, which has been going for decades, is regaining hope. Workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York have finally voted to allow a union to represent them against the e-commerce giant’s management. To date, no union represents the one million people who work in the United States for Amazon, the country’s second-largest private employer after Walmart.
The Amazon Labor Union (ALU) victory by 2654 votes to 2131 certainly only applies to the employees of the JFK8 warehouse on Staten Island. It nevertheless represents an important symbolic success. Amazon has been trying to stop its employees from joining unions for years. Amazon’s sweeping anti-union campaigns have been in the news for months.
Another Amazon site, also on Staten Island, called LDJ5, which employs 1,500 people, in turn must decide on ALU’s representativeness on April 25. Meanwhile, tension in Bessemer, Alabama, continues for Amazon. After the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overturned a stinging defeat of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) last year, a new meeting has taken place: the union representing retail workers received just 875 votes against 993. However, the count is much tighter than last year. 416 ballots are now contested, prolonging uncertainty.
The Biden administration is encouraging union recruitment, which it sees as a source of power rebalancing in favor of the middle class. Only 10.3% of American workers are unionized today, a percentage that is half as high as in 1983. In the private sector, union membership is even lower, at 6.1%.
The obligation to contribute to a union banned in 28 states
Attempts by United Auto Workers to convince employees of foreign auto giants with multiple US plants, such as Toyota or Volkswagen, have been in vain. Americans are reluctant to pay high monthly dues to give a single organization the monopoly on negotiating their employment contract. In addition, 28 states have banned the practice of “closed shop,” which mandates the payment of union dues as a condition of obtaining employment. Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, which rely on campaign finance unions, are trying to invalidate these so-called “Right to Work” laws.
The extraordinary labor shortage raging in the United States as we emerge from the pandemic presents unions with a historic opportunity to turn the corner. In February, for example, there were 1.8 vacancies per job seeker.
In the coming months, dozens of Amazon sites will be the scene of union elections. Other icon companies are going through the same scenario. For example, a majority of employees at ten Starbucks cafes in several US states have voted in recent months to be represented by Workers United. This move is viewed with skepticism by many labor market specialists, as young Starbucks baristas rarely have careers in their position.
Amazon warehouse unionization may also come as a surprise, as the Seattle-based company is one of the most generous in terms of wages and benefits, such as health insurance and tuition. On the other hand, the organizers of Staten Island in Bessemer emphasize the role a union can play in improving working conditions, from preventing accidents to developing production rates.
ALSO SEE – Union at Amazon: Joe Biden ‘happy’ that employees ‘can be heard’