Underneath hazy skies and within the calm of morning, employees waited patiently in line exterior the JFK8 warehouse Friday for a say on whether or not to ascertain Amazon’s first US labour union.
The six-day election on the Staten Island warehouse, overseen by US officers, opens the polls to the ability’s 5,000 employees for 5 hours every morning after which once more within the night for an additional five-hour spherical.
Led by former and present employees, Amazon Labour Union (ALU) certified for a vote on unionisation after acquiring signatures from 30 % of the workforce.
However majority help shall be wanted if Amazon is to have its first union for the reason that firm was established in 1994.
Many of the employees who spoke with AFP shortly after the polls first opened Friday weren’t in favor of the marketing campaign.
“The pay is greater than minimal wage, we’ve advantages like medical insurance from day one, and if I would like one thing, I’m going on to my supervisor,” mentioned Georgina Aponte, who was voting no.
Every morning, Aponte, 40, takes a ferry, a subway and two buses from her Bronx dwelling to Amazon. The journey takes two hours every means.
“I like working right here,” she mentioned.
Others expressed sympathy with the objectives of the union, however skepticism concerning the group’s unproven observe document.
“I give them a whole lot of credit score for doing what they’re doing,” mentioned Vinny T., earlier than including, “I believe we’ve extra to lose than acquire.”
The Amazon job is “not that tough,” mentioned the 57-year-old, who has labored in different unionized firms earlier than.
Firm texts Vote ‘NO’
One other employee, Angel Arce, mentioned he’s not loopy about the truth that Amazon’s pay scale doesn’t enhance wages after three years.
However “they don’t seem to be skilled,” Arce mentioned of the union.
Natalie Monarrez got here to vote holding an indication that learn “I joined ALU, I left ALU, I am voting NO.”
Monarrez, who has labored for Amazon for 5 years, joined the marketing campaign in Could 2021 shortly after the group shaped, however gave up on the ALU in January.
“We completely want a union,” Monarrez mentioned.
“We’re working for the richest man on the planet, actually,” Monarrez mentioned of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who sits close to the highest of Forbes’ billionaire listing.
“The least they’ll do is give us a dwelling wage and at the least tackle the problems like harassment, discrimination, ageism, lack of promotions, lack of alternative,” she mentioned.
However Monarrez mentioned employees want an “skilled nationwide union,” not a “small unbiased union that is run by boys who don’t have any expertise.”
At a close-by bus cease, separated by the warehouse fence-line, stood Christian Smalls, the president of the ALU, who had been available since 7 am.
Smalls, 33, was fired in March 2020 after organising a marketing campaign to demand private protecting tools through the top of COVID-19.
He dismissed the criticism over his observe document.
Giant nationwide unions “had 28 years to do one thing,” he mentioned.
If employees are ready for a longtime group to return alongside, “they’ll wait a very long time,” he added.
Smalls mentioned he’s hopeful concerning the vote and a few second election at one other Amazon facility in Staten Island subsequent month.
The corporate has been holding conferences with employees in an effort to remain union-free.
“They’re telling us to vote no,” mentioned a younger male employee who has sat for 30-minute weekly conferences the final three weeks.
The employee, who didn’t wish to give his identify, additionally has obtained “No” texts from the corporate, in addition to a name from the ALU.
“They had been truthful,” the employee mentioned of the union, including that he voted “sure.”
The vote depend is anticipated to start out on March 31 and will take so long as a number of days.