What are Amazon workers in New York asking for and what does the company require?
Amazon workers in Staten Island voted to approve an union on 1 April, but the company has filed over twnety objections to the election.
On 1 April, Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, New York made history by voting to approve a union. The Amazon Labor Union (ALU), which organized the union election celebrated the victory noting that it was the first time a “completely independent worker-led union of this size [had been approved] in decades, if not centuries.”
What are the workers asking for?
The ALU has cited eight demands that they would like the corporation to address.
The first, which relates to health and safety, asks that Associates who are injured on the job be given the remainder of the day off without having to dip into their vacation or sick leave. The workers are not asking for multiple days off, just that the company “send workers home with pay so that they can properly heal.” Additionally, the ALU is demanding that unpaid-time off be calculated in minutes instead of hours, saying “If workers are 7 minutes late to work, Amazon should take 7 minutes of UPT, not 1 hour.”
The second demand concerns the current economic uncertainty being felt by many households, namely inflation. “Amid the rising cost of living” reads the press release, “Amazon should give a 7.5% inflation adjustment for all Tier 1-3 Associates.” The workers are also believe that the company should reorganize so that some lower tier employees, who carry out critical tasks to be promoted and receive a raise of $1.75/hour “to account for the extra work, training, and skill required to perform these roles.”
Also regarding pay, the ALU is demanding that Amazon “end the overtime cap on Part-Time and Flex Associates.” The organization highlighted that a recent cap capped the number of hours at forty-two and they would like to see this revered “immediately.”
The workers are also requesting that 20-minute breaks be reinstated after the company “Amazon abruptly cut our breaks by 5 minutes” in October.
To help workers arrive at the warehouse, the ALU believes that “Amazon should run a direct shuttle between the St. George Ferry terminal and Matrix Park.” The warehouse’s location requires many workers to take overcrowded public buses that the ALU describes as “dangerous and unsustainable.” They would like to see “private shuttle service for Amazon workers immediately.”
The final demand aims relates to the Amazon’s engagement in union busting by allowing “ALU representatives into their anti-union “trainings” to explain our side.” Currently, members of the union are forbidden from attending “mandatory anti-union meetings.” Last year, the company went so far as to have Chris Smalls arrested after he was found on site giving out food and taking questions from workers.
Amazon responds to the unionization effort
In addition to these demands, the organization is asking to be recognized by Amazon executives so that they can begin negotiating.
However, top officials at Amazon have yet to acknowledge the union victory and directly after the results of the election were announced the company said that they “We’re disappointed with the outcome.”
“We believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees,” said the company.
More recently Amazon has said announced the filing of twenty-five objections to the way the election was conducted.
The Associated Press obtained a copy for these objections that reportedly included allegations that ALU organizers “intentionally created hostile confrontations in front of eligible voters,” by disrupting scheduled meetings with workers where the company urged workers to vote against unionization.
Other objections dealt directly with the how other organizations, namely the National Labor Relations Board acted during the election drive.
Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesman, wrote in a statement abstained by the AP that “Based on the evidence we’ve seen so far, as set out in our objections, we believe that the actions of the NLRB and the ALU improperly suppressed and influenced the vote, and we think the election should be conducted again.”