On the Picket Line

‘Now real fight begins’ to win union at Amazon in Staten Island

By Sara Lobman
and Seth Galinsky
April 25, 2022

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — “Now the real fight begins,” Amazon worker Angelika Maldonado, a packer on night shift, told a press conference here April 8. She was referring to Amazon bosses’ moves to overturn the election where a solid majority voted to recognize the Amazon Labor Union at the company’s JFK8 Warehouse here. “We need to unify all the workers — those who voted for the union and those who didn’t — so we can fight for and win the contract of our dreams.”

The union victory — the first at any Amazon warehouse nationwide — has gotten attention from fellow workers.

“We deserve better,” said Michelle Nieves, a packer. “Workers at Amazon are hardworking, unique and diverse, from the youngest to the oldest. We deserve a living wage. We demand job security. We need paid sick leave.”

After workers voted 2,654 to 2,131 in favor of the union, Amazon filed 25 objections with the National Labor Relations Board demanding the election be thrown out. Amazon claims NLRB officials in Region 29 “abandoned the appearance of neutrality” and favored the union. In fact, Amazon lost despite spending millions of dollars to defeat the union and requiring all workers to attend boss-run anti-union meetings.

At the same time, a union recognition vote is scheduled for the smaller LDJ5 warehouse workers across the street from JFK8 beginning April 25. Madeline Wesley, the union’s treasurer, who works at LDJ5, said that Amazon “is really fighting us. All the union busters are in our little building of 1,500. They’re fighting really dirty. It’s a war in there.”

Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls said union fighters know this is going to be “an uphill battle,” given the resources Amazon, the second largest employer in the country, can marshal.

The union isn’t affiliated with any established union, Smalls said, but they have been meeting with the Teamsters and other unions who have agreed to back them in their fight.