Amazon’s First Trade Union Seeks Association With Largest US Union

The first trade union at Amazon is seeking to join forces with one of the largest trade unions in north America, after a number of setbacks since its 2022 victory at a Staten Island warehouse.

The Amazon Labor Union (ALU) has moved to affiliate itself with the Teamsters, otherwise known as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The Teamsters’ board said it has unanimously approved the affiliation, but it is understood that members of both the ALU and the Teamsters have to vote first to ratify the move.

Image credit: Amazon

Amazon’s first union

The Amazon Labor Union was formed in 2021, but really came to prominence in early April 2022, when staff at Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse in the New York City borough of Staten Island voted to unionise under the ALU.

The ALU is operated by current and former Amazon workers, and it became Amazon’s first unionised facility in the United States.

However the ALU has not had a easy two years, and has survived legal appeals and a lack of recognition from Amazon itself.

Indeed, the ALU has struggled to negotiate a contract with Amazon.

Workers at a second facility on Staten Island rejected unionisation in May 2022, and the ALU lost an election at an Albany warehouse in October 2022.

ALU is lead by former Amazon worker Christian Smalls, but former ALU members sued it in 2023, accusing the union of violating the ALU’s constitution and asking a court to hold an election for union officers.

Teamsters affiliation

Smalls on Tuesday tweeted the affiliation development on X (formerly Twitter), describing the move as “historic” as the ALU combines “forces with one of the most powerful unions to take on Amazon together. Our message is clear we want a Contract and we want it Now. We’re putting Amazon on notice that we are coming!”

It is thought that teaming with the Teamsters, may give the ALU the needed backing to kickstart negotiations with Amazon.

ALU divisions

But the ALU is not a happy union it seems.

CNBC reported that the Teamsters affiliation decision has already generated pushback from the ALU Democratic Reform Caucus, the group that sued the ALU last year.

Attorney Arthur Schwartz reportedly said it was unclear how the ALU will hold a membership vote to ratify the Teamsters affiliation when it “doesn’t possess a list of employees, much less a membership list.”

CNBC reported that in March, ALU members had voted to hold an election for new union officers.

Christian Smalls has said he doesn’t plan to run for reelection as ALU president, CNBC reported.

That election is expected to be held in July in person outside of JFK8, Schwartz reportedly said.

The Teamsters has reportedly long sought to organise Amazon warehouse and delivery workers, and even created an Amazon division in 2021 to support and fund workers at the company in their unionisation efforts.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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