Greetings from the Burgh, where it’s been an adrenaline-packed day covering all the happenings at Amazon.
Labor Establishment Caught Off Guard by Staten Island Union Victory
Today’s Amazon union victory in Staten Island has caught many in the labor establishment by surprise.
After two years of organizing, Amazon Labor Union won a groundbreaking union election in Staten Island by a vote of 2,654 to 2,131. The win will likely inspire more workers to organize at the retail behemoth.
Many organizers thought it was impossible to organize in Staten Island, particularly after last year’s 2-to-1 union drive defeat in Bessemer, Alabama.
Amazon Labor Union was a small independent union formed by rank and file workers who crowdfunded their organizing budget during the pandemic.
In the past, much larger unions with larger budgets have failed to organize at Amazon, leading many labor leaders to stumble in figuring out what happened.
“Laughing at PR pitches offering me established union presidents [for] insight on the Amazon warehouse victory,” remarked American Prospect Executive Editor David Dayen on Twitter.
So why did the union at Amazon in Staten Island succeed when others didn’t?
Unions are often seen as big bureaucracies, leading some workers to distrust them. Many unions have pre-set programs and organizing approaches that leave workers feeling as though the organizing program is being imposed on them instead of developing it themselves.
However, Amazon Labor Union was an independent union formed and organized by the very workers seeking to unionize. Many workers in the Amazon union drive felt like they were running the union since they formed it. By feeling a sense of ownership over the union’s direction, many workers were willing to take risks to organize on behalf of the union that they felt that they owned.
“We started just a few of us in a tent and we’ve broken the glass on what people thought was possible,” Amazon worker Madeline Wesley said at a press conference today.
Amazon Labor Union acted like a real union before the vote. They went on wildcat strikes over safety issues. They won legal reinstatement for several workers who were fired. Finally, they got New York State Attorney General Letitia James to investigate labor abuses and speak out on behalf of workers at Amazon’s warehouse in Staten Island.
This stood in sharp contrast to the failed campaign at Amazon in Bessemer, Alabama, which was defeated by a 2-1 margin last April.
Now, the independent Amazon Labor Union may grow the size of their union even more.
The Amazon Labor Union has scheduled more union elections at three other Amazon warehouses in Staten Island for late April.
Given the difficulty the warehouse workers in Staten Island will have in reaching a first contract, a national movement will likely be required to force the company to agree to a union contract.
PA AFL-CIO President Frank Snyder Facing Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Frank Snyder, who recently took office as the newly elected President of the PA AFL-CIO, is now facing allegations of sexual misconduct that may force him to step down.
“This is a moment in Pennsylvania Labor History for every man who has ever witnessed Frank Snyder, the newly minted President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO acting badly towards woman [sic] to step forward and speak out,” Pennsylvania labor journalist Rick Smith, who has a nationally syndicated radio program, wrote on Facebook. “I regret waiting this long to speak out. I was given multiple assurances by the same powerful leaders who I now realize protected and enabled his deplorable behavior to exist and continue that he would never rise to the level of the presidency. Now that they have chosen to coronate him and his behavior as the figurehead of the PA Labor Movement we men can no longer stand idly by and allow his abusive, toxic behavior to destroy our movement. We must stand by our union sisters.”
Payday Report has learned that the PA AFL-CIO Executive Council is meeting on an emergency conference call today to discuss what to do about the allegations. Payday will post updates as we learn more.
Miami-Herald Journalists on Strike Today
Over 100 Journalists at Miami Herald are on strike today over low pay as they seek a first union contract.
“Pay cuts. Denied raises and even cost of living adjustments. Watching young colleagues have to work as Uber Eats drivers as a side hustle,” Miami Herald Food Editor Carlos Frías told the Miami New Times. “Enough is enough.”
Strikes & News Happening Elsewhere
- With the Sacramento teacher’s strike of over 3,000 school staff entering its 2nd week, KCRA has a moving profile of teacher Andrea Alvarado, who has become the face of the strike.
- In Charlotte, North Carolina, drivers with US Foods unionized with the Teamsters.
- In Kalamazoo, Michigan, Mara sushi workers went on strike over better working conditions.
- More than 80 Calexico High School teachers on the US-Mexico border went on an unconfirmed “sickout” strike over contract negotiations.
- Library workers seek to form Missouri’s first librarians’ union.
- Finally, the Birmingham News has a long look at the Warrior Met Coal strike in Abalama as it marks its one-year anniversary.
Alright folks, that’s all for this week.
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Hope yinz have a good weekend.
Love & Solidarity,