Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Amazon Workers in Staten Island Have Taken the First Step Toward a Union

After six months of organizing, Amazon workers in Staten Island have submitted a petition for a union election. Amazon is already fighting the request.

Luigi Morris

October 27, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share

On Monday, October 25, Amazon workers at the cluster of warehouses in Staten Island, New York, filed a petition for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board in New York City. They presented over 2,000 signed union cards, more than the required 30 percent of the 5,000 employees needed to trigger an election according to NLRB rules.The petition was filed by an independent union called Amazon Labor Union, (ALU) headed by the former Amazon employee Chris Smalls.

At a press conference held just shortly after delivering the signed cards to the NLRB, Smalls explained that there will be a hearing with amazon representatives and the NLRB on November 15 to decide whether or not the election will move forward. Smalls said that the union was going to continue to collect signatures in the meantime. “Every single worker in the facilities will be notified that a petition has been filed,” said smalls, adding: “We’re going back out there tomorrow to continue talking to our co-workers.”

This new unionization effort comes after six months of gathering signatures at a tent located across the street from the Amazon facilities. The Amazon Labor Union has also organized several barbecues and have had a continual and visible presence at the warehouses for months now. Workers at this location got national attention previously in the beginning of the pandemic when they organized a protest to demand safe working conditions during the first wave of the virus, when hundreds of people were dying in the city every day. As a result, Chris Smalls was fired and has been working to build ALU and organizing to unionize Amazon ever since. 

Now that the petition has been submitted, these workers will face a highly undemocratic months-long process that forces workers to essentially certify the union twice. This drawn out process will allow Amazon to use every union-busting intimidation and stalling tactic in the book to stop the union or the vote, as it has with other unionization efforts in the past. The experience of the recent failed union drive attempt in Bessemer, Alabama, earlier this year offers many important lessons. In order to prepare for and resist Amazon’s efforts to stop the process or boycott the vote, these workers will need to build a much broader rank-a-file movement that takes the union drive in their own hands.

After delivering the signed cards, workers told the press they want to fight for a new contract that guarantees protections for the workers who organized the union and voted yes, job security, health and safety improvements, longer breaks, medical leave, and bonuses, among other demands. 

While there is no set date for the voting yet, workers went back to the tent as soon as they finished at the NLRB to share the good news and to keep gathering cards to be in a better position to defeat Amazon’s union busing efforts. To their advantage, their union drive is happening in the midst of an uptick of strikes and strike authorizations, that has has gained national attention. 

Facebook Twitter Share

Luigi Morris

Luigi is a freelance photographer, socialist journalist and videographer. He is an activist for immigrants' rights.

Twitter Instagram

Labor Movement

From Strike to Class Struggle: Building a Fighting Labor Movement in the Ruins of Neoliberalism

Workers are going on strike and millions are resigning from their jobs. But we should not see the current and recent strikes in a vacuum or solely analyze the potential of these strikes by looking at the working class in its workplaces. This is only half the picture. There is a broader rupture, amongst working-class and oppressed people, with what was considered common sense in the neoliberal era.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

November 24, 2021

“We Need to Take Back Our Union”: An IATSE Worker on Organizing for Change

A retired member of IATSE Local 80 describes the transformative process of organizing for union democracy in the wake of a disappointing contract fight.

Left Voice

November 23, 2021
IATSE members marching, carrying a banner that reads "The Union Behind Entertainment"

“We Feel Angry, We Feel Unheard”: IATSE Workers Speak Out on the Betrayal of Their Leadership

Left Voice reached out to IATSE workers and asked for their thoughts on the newly ratified contract. Despite an overwhelming vote to strike and a majority “no” vote, union bureaucracy and undemocratic voting rules betrayed the rank-and-file worker’s demands for better working conditions.

Left Voice

November 22, 2021

Don’t Mourn … Organize! Remembering Joe Hill and His Music

Today marks the day 106 years ago that Joe Hill was executed by the state of Utah. An immigrant, worker, Wobbly, and songwriter, we celebrate his legacy with some of his best songs. His work lives on today, still performed widely with the same witty, fierce lyrics that rail against the capitalist system.

Kimberly Ann

November 19, 2021


Germany’s New Government Promises Renewed Attacks on Pensions and Working Hours

Two months after the federal elections, the SPD, the Greens, and the FDP have agreed to form a new government. It promises some reforms, but also new neoliberal measures and increased militarism.

Von Marco Helmbrecht

November 26, 2021
Polynesian president Édouard Fritch at a press conference on November 24

Government Inflexibility Provokes General Strike in French Polynesia

For more than a week, especially in the Caribbean, France’s “overseas territories” have seen a wave of mobilizations against the government. On Wednesday, it spread to French Polynesia, in the Pacific.

Antoine Bordas

November 26, 2021
A group of more than 40 migrants with children get on an inflatable dinghy, as they leave the coast of northern France to cross the English Channel, near Wimereux, France, November 24, 2021.

The French State Is Responsible for 27 Migrants Drowning in the English Channel. Open the Borders!

At least 27 migrants died on Wednesday off the coast of Calais when their inflatable boat sank in the English Channel. Despite the French government’s crocodile tears, the tragedy highlights the criminal nature of borders. All borders must be opened and all undocumented migrants must be given full rights!

Seb Nanzhel

November 26, 2021

Ahmaud Arbery’s Killers Are Found Guilty. What Does This Mean for the Movement?

Ahmaud Arbery’s killers have been found guilty. The guilty verdict in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial is welcome news, but we should be tired of the see-saw of injustice, and fight to abolish the racist, capitalist system as a whole.

Tristan Taylor

November 25, 2021