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Staten Island workers win vote for first Amazon union

At Amazon’s Staten Island complex — which includes four similar warehouses — this month’s vote is just the beginning. Another 1,500 workers at a warehouse directly across from JFK8, dubbed LDJ5, will be eligible to vote in a union action scheduled for April 25. In all, the company says more than 10,000 employees work at the Staten Island property, and organizers want to union them all.

Workers at the sprawling JFK8 warehouse sort, load, and unload items to ship to Amazon customers across the region. They often work nearly 12-hour shifts with two 30-minute breaks or sometimes a 45-minute break depending on the shift, which workers say is barely enough time to walk around the warehouse and eat. Workers’ movements and productivity are meticulously tracked by the company, and those who can’t keep up are targeted with attributions, workers say.

In a company statement published on its website, Amazon said it was disappointed with the result and accused the NLRB of “undue and improper influence” over the vote.

NLRB spokeswoman Kayla Blado claimed there was nothing improper about his actions.

“The NLRB is an independent federal agency that Congress has mandated to enforce the National Labor Relations Act,” Blado said Friday. “All NLRB enforcement actions against Amazon have been consistent with this mandate from Congress.”

Amazon union organizers fought with promises to fight for higher starting wages. They are targeting $30 an hour from the current starting price of $18.25. They want job security to prevent the company from constantly firing and rehiring employees several months later. They are also pushing for quality of life improvements for workers by allowing workers to leave their phones on the warehouse floor and urging the company to provide shuttle buses for workers with long commutes.

“Get it out, get it out, get it out, get it out. It’s like that every day,” said Meena Shuler, who stood first in line when the polls opened outside the warehouse on March 25, explaining why she voted for the Amazon Union. Those pressures were ramped up during the pandemic, while workers were denied access to personal protective equipment and fell ill in droves, she said. Shuler said workers received a $500 bonus during COVID, but that felt like a slap in the face as the company made record-breaking profits as online orders soared.

“It’s okay to want high standards. But we also deserve high standards as human beings. We’re treated too much like a number,” she said. “I just hope this makes Amazon a better place for employees around the world.”

https://gothamist.com/news/si-workers-prevail-in-vote-for-first-ever-amazon-warehouse-union Staten Island workers win vote for first Amazon union

Ari Notis

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