A group of employees has come together to create a unionization campaign at Amazon’s recently opened Staten Island fulfillment center. They have expressed concerns with safety, inadequate pay, and lengthy shifts with minimal breaks.
On December 12, a few pro-union Amazon employees attended a press conference at City Hall, alongside activists and elected officials. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer criticized the government’s deal with Amazon asking, “What do the people get, and what are the workers going to get? Where is the labor agreement?”
In response to these questions, Amazon’s head of public policy, Brian Huseman, told City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, “We absolutely respect the right of any employee to join a union.” The council was also informed that Amazon plans on working with a unionized construction crew for the Queens development.
Pro-union employees have been working with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which has supported organizing at Whole Foods (acquired by Amazon last year). “There’s never been greater leverage—if taxpayers are giving Amazon $3 billion, then taxpayers have the right to demand that Amazon stop being a union-busting company,” says RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “If Amazon continues its union-busting activities in New York, [the governor and mayor] should call off the deal.”
Meanwhile, on December 14, about 100 workers marched and chanted “hear our voice,” outside of Amazon’s Shakopee, Minnesota, warehouse. Workers expressed frustration for unfair working conditions and being poorly treated. One employee expressed his irritation, “We needed secured jobs, we are not robots.”