On Monday, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said that workers at the Staten Island warehouse of Amazon in New York City have filed a petition in their labor office in Brooklyn. The petition states that they want to form a union and their organization represents more than 2000 workers. However, the company questioned whether there were sufficient legitimate signatures collected by the petitioners. The fledgling union said that they had enough workers interest to do so, according to a report by the New York Times.
The Staten Island union effort has been initiated by former and current employees. Earlier, an effort to unionize at Amazon’s huge warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, in the south, failed, although there were talks of interference and anti-union measures. This is the second effort to unionize in the nation and might have better prospects.
The union is headed by Chris Smalls. He was fired by Amazon in March 2020. He had started a protest against the company for not providing protective gear and hazard pay during the early weeks of the pandemic. Their aim is to form a new independent union. This union will be called the Amazon Labor Union. It will work solely for Amazon workers. Amazon is the second largest employer in the nation, with about 950,000 employees, following Walmart.
The efforts to unionize began at the huge Staten Island warehouse called JFK8. This is the main warehouse serving New York City. It employs over 5000 people. About six months ago, unionization work work began here and then spread to three smaller facilities run by Amazon in the same, massive industrial park. They have obtained some pro bono legal services.
Workers at JFK8 said that Amazon had illegally interfered with their organizing rights. The labor board lawyers have some some merit in their accusations. The agency said that they would continue to look into three cases while initial investigations continue with six other cases.