UPDATE: Amazon Labor Union officially confirmed the vote this afternoon in an announcement via Twitter.
Amazon workers at a Staten Island, New York, warehouse have voted in overwhelming support to form an upstart union, a historic win for that will likely reverberate across not only the company itself, but the labor movement nationwide. Although there are still a few hundred votes left to count, the current 2,300 “yes” votes versus 1,855 “no” votes ensures there is mathematically no way for the scales to tip in the other direction.
“This is a huge shot in the arm for the entire labor movement,” Cornell University’s director of labor education research Kate Bronfenbrenner told Bloomberg.
What comes next remains to be seen. Amazon could challenge the tally, although it seems unlikely that they could successfully reverse the resounding results. An agenda hasn’t been set by the newly formed union, although a survey of workers indicated desires to “bring back monthly productivity bonuses the company eliminated in 2018, giving hourly workers Amazon stock and raising pay to $30 an hour compared with the current average starting wage of $18 an hour.”
Suck it, Bezos.
Amazon responds — Amazon, for its part, sounds pretty pissed judging from the official statement it put out this afternoon. “We’re disappointed with the outcome of the election in Staten Island because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees,” they wrote today before warning they were “evaluating our options, including filing objections based on the inappropriate and undue influence by the NLRB that we and others (including the National Retail Federation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce) witnessed in this election.”
Of course, no evidence of “inappropriate and undue influence” has been given yet, but rest assured, Amazon will be sure to concoct some sort of reasoning behind it.
A new era — It’s hard to understate how big a deal this is within the larger labor landscape, particularly for Big Tech giants like Amazon. Jeff Bezos and his cronies have been hellbent on crushing pro-union sentiment and organization efforts across their company, going so far as to spend a ridiculous $4.3 million on union-busting consultants last year alone. While it initially appeared to work for them after an attempt to unionize at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, failed, the vote itself has since come under legal scrutiny, and may actually result in a new election.
Meanwhile, all that money didn’t stop workers at the Staten Island location from delivering a resounding victory this week — it likely won’t take long until other Amazon warehouses follow their lead. When that happens, Bezos will need to do a lot more than just throw money at goon consultants if he wants to stifle labor rights. That, or maybe he can just jet off to space for good next time. Fingers crossed.
Elon Musk, you hear that? Your workers are up next, Mr. Technoking. We can’t wait to see how that goes.