This story originally appeared in Common Dreams on April 4, 2022. It is shared here with permission under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) license.
In the wake of its historic victory in the election to unionize Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island, the Amazon Labor Union demanded over the weekend that the company begin collective bargaining negotiations in early May and immediately halt any changes to employment policies in the meantime.
“As you are aware, the Amazon Labor Union has decisively won the union election,” Christian Smalls, the president of ALU, wrote in a letter to company management. “We are available to meet anytime on May 2, 3, 4, or 5 of 2022 for collective bargaining negotiations. Please provide your available dates and times before close of business on April 8, 2022.”
Amazon has until April 8 to formally submit any objections to the election results, a step the company signaled it may take shortly following news of the union’s victory on Friday, the first-ever vote in favor of unionizing an Amazon warehouse in the United States and one of the biggest wins for the labor movement in decades.
The company, which waged an aggressive union-busting campaign in the lead-up to the election, said it is “evaluating our options, including filing objections based on the inappropriate and undue influence by the [National Labor Relations Board]”—an indication that Amazon management is not prepared to start collective bargaining talks. The retail behemoth is also fighting off a unionization attempt in Bessemer, Alabama, where election results released last week were razor-close.
According to a Bloomberg Law analysis from last year, it takes longer than a year on average for new unions and employers to sign their first collective bargaining agreement. Many unions, due to bad-faith negotiating by employers and other factors, never succeed in securing their first contract.
In a statement on Saturday, the ALU said that “it is in the common interest of both parties to respect the outcome of this democratic election.” The union added in an accompanying tweet that “JFK8 workers denounce any attempt by Amazon to delay our hard-won right to bargain collectively.”
“The workers of JFK8 have made clear their desire and intention to engage in collective bargaining,” the union said. “It is our sincere hope that we can begin a constructive dialogue with our employer, and that the process will result in greatly improved working conditions for Amazon workers.”
“President Smalls has also demanded on behalf of workers that Amazon hereby maintain the status quo with regards to terms and conditions of employment at JFK8,” the union continued, alluding to concerns that Amazon could retaliate against organizers. “Additionally, we demand the employer respect each worker’s legal right to union representation in disciplinary meetings, and the outcome of any such meeting be subject to bargaining.”