Biden’s NLRB was instrumental in merging Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse

On Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders will visit Amazon workers at the Staten Island sorting center known as LDJ5, who will soon vote on whether to join their comrades across the street in unionizing.

Their neighbors’ victory at the JFK8 warehouse earlier this month rocked the corporate world. And while Democrats have been prominent in Congress, the victory of Amazon’s ragtag team, which received just $120,000 from GoFundMe, has raised the question of what the value of campaign politics really is. Should people instead just focus on building up power for the worker base and abandon the duopoly?

A closer look at how Chris Smalls, who led the organizing effort after being fired from Amazon, and his allies pooled that victory and threaten to win again soon shows that there really can’t be a mass organization without electoral victories. The two work together, not as either-or.

One of Joe Biden’s most aggressive presidential nominations was appointment of Jennifer Abruzzo as General Counsel National Council on Labor Relations. Given the efforts to make unionization much easier, she may be the only person who worries the editors of the Wall Street Journal more than FTC Chair Lina Khan.

In December, under pressure from Amazon agreed on a critical settlement with the NLRB, in which they agreed to allow workers to organize within their businesses, but not on the shop floor.

“This settlement provides Amazon with an important commitment to its millions of workers in the United States that it will not violate their right to act collectively to improve their workplace by unionizing or taking other collective action,” Abruzzo said in a statement. at that time.

President Donald Trump and the MAGA movement talk a lot about their support for the workers, but when it came to their material and economic interests in the form of unionization, they were nowhere to be seen. Trump’s NLRB would absolutely not reach this agreement with Amazon.

Trump’s NLRB would absolutely not reach this agreement with Amazon.

Unlike the labor union initiative led by major Labor, the Amazon Labor Union or the ALU, the effort was directed by workers and ex-workers who had access to funds that professional organizers lack. Smalls said the key to their success was their ability to organize work within the plant. “They’re trying to instill this fear in these workers, they’re trying to tell them they’re talking to us, they’re getting fired.” – Chris Smalls. said Jordan Hariton from Status Coup. “But the difference is that it is completely run by the workers. These workers who are inside receive this information in real time. And that has been a huge success for us.”

During a union action by professional organizers at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon hired anti-union fighters to walk around the shop floor and talk to workers, telling them how terrible unions are. The original vote, which was prior to the NLRB settlement, failed. The replay still counts but looks bad for the union. In Staten Island, the workers were able to fight back by exposing them from the start.

Like HuffPost informed, they created flyers that identified the most active anti-unionists in the warehouse, where they were based (usually far away) and how much money they made from the union busting campaigns. They put flyers in stacks in break rooms throughout the facility for everyone to see and know how much Amazon spends bringing in anti-union consultants from all over the country.

Conor Spence, an Amazon worker, told HuffPost’s Dave Jamison that he would follow consultants throughout the warehouse, handing workers copies of their Labor Department filings that list their $300 an hour fees. According to him, it was an extremely powerful tactic. If Amazon was worth paying someone this much to convince workers not to join a union, the union must be pretty powerful.

Spence also told Jamison that there is one extremely effective female consultant who chats with male employees: “All the guys in her department were in love with her,” he said. The men defended her when the union organizers called her. But when they produced copies of her disclosure documents showing she made almost $20,000 in just one week of fighting unions, they felt betrayed.

Outside the warehouse, the Small team set up tents where they fed the workers lunch, helped them with any problems they had, talked business, hung out, and even shared weed. Amazon complained to the NLRB about the free weed, but ALU’s attorney said it was no different than giving away T-shirts in terms of labor law.

Without this work inside the warehouse, and without all this organization in the tent outside the warehouse, they simply would not have been able to successfully organize a union. And if the NLRB had not forced Amazon to allow this organization, this organization would not have been possible.

None of this came as a surprise to Eugene W. Debs, the legendary Golden Age railroad union organizer. The massive labor uprisings from the 1870s to the 1890s were ruthlessly suppressed not only by the bosses, but by the bosses who worked hand in hand with the National Guard troops and the police. It was only with the New Deal that the state either became neutral or supported the organization. In 1936, when Ford workers went on a sit-in, the company asked the federal government to help them stop the strike. President Franklin D. Roosevelt told Ford that this was their problem and they should fix it. Roosevelt did not help, but, without crushing the workers, he gave them a chance to win, which they did. In the 1980s, the tide turned when President Ronald Reagan actively took the side of companies to crush unions.

So it’s not that electing Democrats will magically spark a union movement or lead to unionization in your own workplace. But what he did here was to give the workers a chance.