Al Jazeera: Melk Talks How Strike Wave Led to Organizing Success at Amazon

Amazon Labor union activists celebrate their victory on Friday (GETTY IMAGES)


In the wake of the Amazon victory, I appeared on Al-Jazeera last Friday to talk about how the Strike Wave during the pandemic gave workers a new sense of power and led to the first successful union drive at Amazon on Staten Island. 

In March of 2020, over 50 workers at Amazon went on a wildcat strike, which led Amazon to fire the main organizer, Christian Smalls. Afterward, Smalls and an initial group of less than a dozen workers continued to push for an independent union for more than two years.

Few in labor journalism expected that Small’s union would win, but in the summer of 2020, Payday accurately predicted how union organizing was changing in a way that many labor journalists and establishment labor journalists weren’t covering. 

In June of 2020, Payday Report published “How Black & Brown Workers Are Redefining Strikes In the Digital COVID Age,” which reported on how the labor movement was struggling to understand and cover the ways that Black and Brown workers were redefining strikes and organizing.

On Al-Jazeera, I discuss how this newfound sense of power that workers gained while striking during the pandemic helped propel them to victory at Amazon and how we are likely to see more unexpected union wins. 

Give it a watch here. 

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. A native of Pittsburgh, Elk grew up in a UE union family. Elk was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election & traveled with him to the Oval Office. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and attended journalism school at PUC-Rio de Janeiro. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburgh fluently. His email is [email protected]

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