A Staten Island Amazon (AMZN) fulfillment center could unionize soon. Reuters reports 57% of the workers at Amazon’s JFK8 facility voted to join the Amazon Labor Union (ALU).
The 57% vote means unionization because the ALU needs a simple majority vote to win. Hence, JFK8 in the New York City borough could become the first US Amazon fulfillment center to unionize. I think the ALU has won because the National Labor Relations Board will probably certify the election.
Around 1,518 JFK8 workers voted to Unionize while 1,154 voted against the ALU, Labor Notes estimates. They counted the votes on 31 March 2022. However, a recount of votes is continuing. Reuters estimates around 2,700 workers participated in the election.
The New York Times estimates 8,000 people work at the JFK8 fulfillment center. Hence, I estimate most of the center’s workers did not vote if The Times and Reuters are correct.
Democratic Strategists fight Amazon Union
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has fought unionization hard. For instance, The New York Times claims Amazons spent over $4.3 million fighting the JFK8 union drive.
In contrast, the ALU spent $120,000 on the Unionization effort, The Times reports. Astoundingly, The Times claims 11 Amazon vice presidents led the ALU opposition.
Similarly, Amazon hired Global Strategy Group (GSG), a Democratic polling firm with connections to President Joe Biden (D-Delaware), to support its union opposition, CNBC alleges. CNBC alleges GSG monitors the social media accounts of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU).
Hence, Amazon unionization could trigger a conflict between the Democratic Party and organized labor. That could have serious consequences in future elections.
Particularly, with some Republicans showing sympathy for unions and the working class. For example, failed presidential candidate and US Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) praises the idea of an Amazon union in a 2021 USA Today op-ed.
The New York unionization Amazon fight is far from over. Workers at a second Staten Island Amazon facility, LDJ5, will hold a union vote on 25 April 2022.
Why Unions want Amazon
Union leaders want to organize Amazon (AMZN) because the Everything Store is one of America’s largest employers.
Amazon employed over 1.1 million people in the United States in February 2022, Geek Wire estimates. Amazon’s workforce is enormous. Geek Wire estimates there were 20,000 Amazon workers in Colorado, 170,000 Amazon workers in California, 95,000 Amazon workers in Texas, and 39,000 Amazon employees in New York State.
Amazon’s labor force is growing fast. Geek Wire estimates Amazon’s workforce grew by 18% between 2021 and 2022. Amazon employed 935,000 Americans at the beginning of 2021 that labor force grew to 1.1 million in 2022.
Amazon’s gigantic footprint also attracts unions. For example, Amazon operated 305 large fulfillment centers in the US in January 2022, Big Rents estimates. Furthermore, Amazon could open 50 large fulfillment centers and grow its footprint to 355 big warehouses by 2023.
Amazon operates 1,137 fulfillment centers and warehouses of all shapes and sizes in the US, MWPVL International consultants estimate. Plus, Amazon has plans to open another 331 warehouses and fulfillment centers of all sizes in the USA.
Hence, Amazon runs America’s largest logistics network. In contrast, Amazon’s biggest competitor, Walmart (WMT) operates 198 distribution centers in the USA.
Amazon could give Unions enormous power
Hence, Amazon organization could give unions enormous power. For example, the ALU could threaten to strike in December, threatening the Christmas shopping season.
Moreover, Amazon is the only place tens of millions of Americans shop. Shut Amazon down and you could have widespread anger in cities such as New York. There will be enormous pressure to give unions whatever they want to keep the packages moving.
Amazon unions could gain enormous leverage over both the economy and politics. For example, an Amazon union could control 170,000 votes in one state (California) enough to swing elections. A successful Amazon Union could have enormous political power.
Hence, the ALU, a union formed by two guys from Newark, could become one of America’s most powerful labor organizations. Notably, the Amazon Labor Union is a new organization formed in 2020 and operating on a shoestring budget. Yet the ALU succeeded where an elaborate unionization effort staged by Big Labor failed in Bessemer, Alabama.
Notably, New York is a labor friendly state while Alabama is a right-to-work stronghold. Moreover, the ALU is a true grass-roots organization led by actual workers, two black guys from Jersey.
In contrast, the Bessemer effort was an astroturf attempt by professional organizers, reportedly white college students. One reason the ALU succeeded on Staten Island was that two actual working-class guys who know how to talk to workers led the unionization drive.
I think the ALU could replicate its success in other historically labor-friendly states, such as California, Colorado, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Hence, Amazon could disrupt labor unions just as it has disrupted the retail industry.
Dangers from the Concentration of Corporate Power
Therefore, Amazon shows another danger from the concentration of corporate power in giant companies. Giant companies such as Amazon can give other groups, including unions, enormous power.
I think Americans need to fear an Amazon union’s power because of American unions’ long history of corruption. Creating a new giant corrupt organization is a poor way to fight giant corrupt organizations.
I predict Amazon unionization will continue because of the shitty way the company mistreats employees. My suspicion is we will see Amazon facilities in other strong union states such as Colorado, California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania unionize next.
Expect Amazon unionization to continue and the to become the big American labor story of the 21st century. Furthermore, I think Amazon unionization could change America’s political landscape by making unions a powerful force in American politics again.
Originally published at https://marketmadhouse.com on April 4, 2022.