Amazon recently launched new anti-union efforts in Staten Island warehouses following a historic unionization vote in April at an Alabama facility that the union lost.
The company ran anti-union ads at TV screens at the JFK8 warehouse at Staten Island. The screens displayed messages such as “KNOW THE FACTS BEFORE YOU SIGN A UNION CARD: If someone asks you to provide your personal information or sign a union card, do not release your personal information without knowing all the facts.”
A union must have at least a third of the eligible workforce sign authorization cards to qualify for an election under the National Labor Relations Board.
Amazon also sent notifications to warehouse workers on the Amazon A to Z intranet. The messages included a list of reasons to not sign union authorization cards, such as having to pay union fees.
Workers at the warehouse say they were inspired by the Bessemer election. The union calls itself The Congress of Essential Workers (TCOEW) and started a union drive across several Staten Island Amazon facilities. Organizers began collecting union authorization cards last week.
Amazon wasted no time in launching an anti-union propaganda campaign. One of the lead organizers for TCOEW, Christian Smalls, worked at the JFK8 facility before being fired in 2020 for leading a walkout during the pandemic. Smalls was later smeared by Amazon, who called him “not articulate or smart.”
“This is a union state,” Smalls said in response to the anti-union messages. “There are husbands, wives, and brothers and sisters who are in unions. Workers know this is a bunch of B.S. and it’s upsetting them.”
TCOEW is still independent and not affiliated with any larger unions. Their union goes by the name the Amazon Labor Union. A report from TruthOut suggests workers involved in unionization efforts have been made to watch a video about the “code of business conduct and ethics” at Amazon.
The anti-union messages at Staten Island mirror the messages from Alabama, suggesting unions drain workers of earnings and actually take away worker voices. Amazon launched an aggressive anti-union campaign in Bessemer, including messages, mailers, banners, mandatory meetings, care packages sent to worker homes, and a website.
The union for the Bessemer workers is filing a complaint with the NRLB to throw away the election results for preventing “a free and uncoerced exercise of choice by the employees.” The union says a hearing is scheduled for May 7th.