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Amazon sees the birth of its first union in the United States

Members of the Amazon Labor Union celebrate the founding of the company's first union, in New York City on April 1, 2022.

A small group of employees has failed one of the largest multinationals. Employees of an Amazon warehouse in New York voted on Friday 1er April, the majority in favor of the creation of a union, a first in the United States within the company.

According to a count broadcast online, 2,654 employees ticked “yes” to be represented by the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), created almost a year ago, against 2,131 who voted against. At the announcement of the results, applause resounded within the small crowd gathered for the occasion at the bottom of the building where the counting was organized.

“People have spoken today, they want a union”, said Christian Smalls, president of the ALU, just after the result. In front of the press, he ironically thanked the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, for going to space, “because while he was up there, we were able to set up a union”.

For its part, the company expressed in a press release its ” disappointment “ and say “evaluate your options”.

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On the contrary, the American president, Joe Biden, welcomed the creation of the union. The Democrat, who never misses an opportunity to praise the action of trade union organizations in the United States, is “happy that employees make sure to be heard for important decisions” which concern them, reacted Friday his spokesperson Jen Psaki.

Disappointments for Amazon

“It is truly a historic day”asserted the lawyer representing ALU, Eric Milner. “I think it can start a chain reaction, from one warehouse to another. » A total of 8,325 workers at the JFK8 warehouse, located in the Staten Island neighborhood in a large industrial area, were on the voters’ list, even though some of them no longer work at Amazon. They were called to vote in person in a tent set up in front of the building, from March 25 to 30.

In all, 4,852 people slipped a ballot into the ballot box. The count, carried out by the agency responsible for labor law in the United States, the NLRB, began Thursday afternoon. Amazon disputes “inappropriate influence” of this agency responsible for supervising the election, and plans to file an appeal to this effect.

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The online sales giant, one of the largest American employers, had so far succeeded in repelling the desires of employees wishing to regroup in the country. The group also faces two other battles. On the other side of the street from the JFK8 warehouse, some 1,500 employees of the sorting center called LDJ5 are called upon to vote for or against the creation of another branch of the ALU, from April 25 to 29.

Further south in the country, in Bessemer, Alabama, the national distribution union RWDSU, which employees wanted to join, seemed set for a possible second contested defeat. Thursday evening, the “no” led with 993 ballots, against 875 “yes”, but there were still 416 ballots said “disputed”, who will decide the outcome. A hearing should allow, in the coming weeks, to decide what will be done with these bulletins.

On the decline for several decades, the unions have won several symbolic victories in the United States in recent months, starting with the explicit support of Joe Biden. The creation of the first union in a Starbucks directly operated by the chain in the United States in December has generated enthusiasm

The World with AFP

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