The Amazon Labor Union has built momentum leading up to an election this week at an 800-person warehouse near Albany, N.Y.
A federal labor official recently endorsed the union’s election victory at a Staten Island warehouse in April, which Amazon has challenged, while workers’ frustrations over pay and safety have created an opportunity to add supporters and pressure the company to bargain.
But the union faces questions about whether it can translate such opportunities into lasting gains. For months after its victory at the 8,000-person warehouse on Staten Island, the union appeared to be out of its depths. It nearly buckled under a crush of international media attention and lost a vote at a second Staten Island warehouse in May.
At times, it has neglected organizing inside the original warehouse, known as JFK8, where high turnover means the union must do constant outreach just to maintain support — to say nothing of expanding. Christian Smalls, the union’s president and a former JFK8 employee, seemed distracted as he traveled widely. There was burnout and infighting in the group, and several core members left or were pushed out.
attempt to overturn its victory, which consumed time and resources, as supporters and leaders testified in hearings that dragged across 24 business days beginning in mid-June. The union delayed plans to train more workers as organizers. A national organizing call was put on hold.
a party in Hollywood and decided that the Amazon Labor Union “understood where we were coming from,” she recalled in an interview.