The news: Amazon workers in a Staten Island, New York, warehouse voted to unionize last Friday, marking the first successful unionization effort among Amazon’s workforce. Meanwhile, a union vote in Bessemer, Alabama, is too close to call, with 416 ballots being contested by both Amazon and the union.
The underdog prevails: Amazon has worked aggressively to defeat organizing activity among its workers, using its significant resources to dissuade employees from joining unions.
Why this matters: The Amazon Labor Union (ALU)’s victory in Staten Island could mark a turning point in Amazon’s ability to impose top-down directives on its workers. The ALU is calling for “more reasonable” productivity rates in warehouses, as well as higher wages, more breaks, and additional paid vacation time.
Looking ahead: Workers are growing increasingly unafraid of speaking out against their employers and agitating for higher pay, better work environments, and more benefits, but many of their efforts are yet to bear fruit, as corporations fight back.
The big takeaway: The union’s victory in Staten Island could be the boost that Amazon workers around the country need to start demanding votes in their own districts. Even if the Bessemer vote fails, Amazon’s margin of victory will be much smaller than in the last election, signaling that workers are less intimidated by the company’s tactics.