Amazon Labor Union moves to become part of the Teamsters union

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The unbiased labor union representing Amazon staff which gained a historic victory at an Amazon warehouse in New York in 2022 — is shifting to formally affiliate with the Teamsters, an alliance that might assist revive the struggling group.

Pending ratification, Tuesday’s announcement means members of the Amazon Labor Union will become part of the Teamsters group, a growth in the union’s ongoing effort to manage at Amazon, the nation’s second-largest personal employer.

More than two years after ALU’s victory, Amazon has not acknowledged the labor union at its Staten Island warehouse and continues to attraction the end result of the election there in a authorized course of that might draw out for years. ALU leaders say they’re pissed off that federal labor regulators haven’t ordered Amazon to start negotiating with the union.

Amazon didn’t instantly return a request for remark. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.

Since its large win, the management of ALU, which impressed dozens of follow-on campaigns throughout the nation, has skilled a schism. Some union leaders alleged that the president and face of the marketing campaign, Chris Smalls, wasted union sources on a press tour whereas ignoring essential organizing work, leading to a break up between the two teams and an ongoing lawsuit.

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Smalls known as the go well with “ridiculous” and mentioned ALU is “worker-led … not Chris led.”

Following a interval of overexpansion in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon slowed its progress, canceling the opening of some warehouses, and this week confirmed the closure of warehouses in Washington state and California. It is underneath investigation by federal office well being and security regulators, a congressional committee chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the U.S. legal professional for the Southern District of New York, which is investigating claims that Amazon allegedly hid employee accidents.

The effort to unionize Amazon coincides with a interval of heightened enthusiasm amongst Americans for labor unions, which gained historic features final 12 months after strikes disrupted elements of the financial system. The United Auto Workers underneath its new president Shawn Fain, gained giant raises and different perks by means of an acrimonious strike in opposition to Detroit automakers final fall. Then the union held a landslide vote in favor of the union at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee in April. Meanwhile, Hollywood actors and Kaiser Permanente nurses have walked out by the tens of hundreds demanding greater pay.

The labor motion nonetheless faces an uphill climb. Last 12 months, solely 10 p.c of U.S. staff have been in a union, a report low, in part due to the explosive progress of the nation’s workforce. And a wave of high-profile victories at beforehand nonunion firms, comparable to Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and REI, have but to obtain first union contracts for staff.

Smalls informed The Post that the transfer to affiliate with the Teamsters “made sense as opposed to working on separate campaigns” to manage Amazon.

“The Teamsters have the most expertise when it comes to logistics in this country as far as delivery drivers,” Smalls mentioned. “They have money, volunteers and locals all over the country.”

The Teamsters, who traditionally signify drivers and supply staff, introduced their intent to manage Amazon staff in 2021, appointing Randy Korgan director of its Amazon Division.

The Teamsters, which final 12 months threatened UPS with a nationwide shutdown, might carry recent momentum and organizing heft to the effort to unionize Amazon. The narrowly averted strike gained UPS’s 340,000 union members the strongest contract in a long time, forcing the delivery large to abolish a lower-paid tier of staff and securing 48 p.c common raises for part-time staff over 5 years.

Teamsters President Sean O’Brien has mentioned that he hopes the union can use the features in the UPS contract to encourage Amazon staff to be part of the Teamsters. A replica of the affiliation settlement between the events obtained by The Post states that ALU will type an autonomous native comprised of Amazon warehouse staff in New York City with the privileges and duties of normal Teamsters membership. It didn’t specify whether or not members can pay union dues to the Teamsters.

ALU board members from the Staten Island warehouse, in addition to associates from Amazon warehouses in California, Kentucky, and North Carolina, traveled final month to Washington to meet with O’Brien and different Teamsters management at the union’s headquarters, the place they mentioned a possible affiliation, Smalls mentioned.

ALU’s reform caucus and the Teamsters didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The transfer to add Amazon warehouse staff to its ranks builds on Teamsters President O’Brien’s pledge to take a extra aggressive method to organizing Amazon. O’Brien ascended to the union’s high job in 2022, with the assist of inner reformers, ending a long time of Hoffa household management.

When ALU gained the first election at an Amazon warehouse, organized labor teams comparable to the American Postal Workers Union and the American Federation of Teachers lined up to again the group. Sen. Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez additionally confirmed their assist.

But as Amazon has mounted steady authorized challenges to the union’s victory, and infighting between factions of the union have been made public, public and monetary assist for the group has withered. Union elections held by ALU at close by warehouses in New York City and Albany failed. The Teamsters supply ALU monetary, authorized and structural assist.

So far this month, the Teamsters have filed three unfair labor apply expenses in opposition to Amazon on behalf of staff in Kentucky, Illinois, and Michigan.



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