A small group of motivated employees failed one of the largest multinationals. Workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York voted overwhelmingly in favor of forming a union, a first in the United States.
A total of 8,325 workers at the JFK8 warehouse in the Staten Island neighborhood of a major industrial area were on the voters list. Called to vote from March 25 to 30 in a tent set up in front of the warehouse, 4,852 employees slipped a ballot into the ballot box. According to a tally transmitted online, 2,654 employees ticked ” Yes “ to be represented by the independent organization Amazon Labor Union (ALU) created almost a year ago, against 2,131 who voted ” no “.
“Low chance of winning”
Amazon, one of the largest employers in the United States, had so far succeeded in repelling the desires of employees wishing to regroup in the country. “IThey had so little chance of winning”, observes Rebecca Givan, a specialist in labor movements at Rutgers University who was not very optimistic as the election approached. The current law on trade unions being particularly favorable to employers.
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When the results were announced, applause rang out among the small crowd gathered for the occasion at the bottom of the building in the Brooklyn district where the counting was held. The name of the union, ALU, is chanted several times. Its president Christian Smalls uncorks a bottle of champagne: “People have spoken today, they want a union”, he said. A little later in front of the press, he ironically thanked Amazon boss Jeff Bezos for going into space, “because while he was up there, we were able to set up a union”.
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On the decline for several decades, the unions have won several symbolic victories in the United States in recent months, starting with the explicit support of American President Joe Biden. He also hailed the victory of the ALU union, saying ” happy “ that employees can “to be heard”.