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Amazon faces new union organizing push in US

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Workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York have launched a effort to unionize./AFP
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Oct 22, 2021 - 06:40 AM

NEW YORK — Workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York are seeking to unionize, the organizing group said Thursday, six months after a similar attempt in Alabama failed.

Laborers vying to form the first union at the e-commerce colossus in the United States will file with US officials on Monday with the goal of holding an election.

Amazon Labor Union (ALU), the organizing group, said the company is fighting the effort.

“Since the campaign has launched, Amazon has not wasted any time union busting,” the ALU said in a statement.

“We have endured the same strategies used in Bessemer, Alabama, from signs in the bathrooms and breaks, to the same union-busting firms and consultants being brought in to walk around the workplace and divide the workers.”

The organizing effort is led by former employee Christian Smalls, who sued Amazon over his dismissal and pandemic conditions at the facility in the New York City borough of Staten Island.

The ALU said it is seeking “higher wages, job security, safer working conditions, more paid time off, better medical leave options, longer breaks and more.”

Amazon did not address the organizers’ accusations, but made clear it opposed unionizing efforts generally.

“As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees,” its statement said, arguing that “continuous improvement is harder to do quickly and nimbly with unions in the middle.”

The fresh push comes after a US labor official in August recommended the results be nullified in a failed effort at an Alabama warehouse, opening a possible path to a new election.

The union alleges that effort to form the first union at a US-based Amazon facility was tainted by the company’s interference, and the hearing officer recommendation is a key step towards potentially overturning the April ballot.

US labor watchdog the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) would need to approve the proposal for it to take effect.

The results, which showed a wide majority of workers rejecting the move, capped a bruising months-long battle that sparked intense debate over workplace conditions at Amazon, which employs more than 800,000 people in the United States.

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