More than 70 years after the peak of the union movement, another generation of workers is spearheading a new labor union movement. Amazon, Apple and Starbucks, among other public companies, have felt the pressure from employees who have started to unionize.
ALU beats Amazon
On April 1, employees at Amazon’s JF8 warehouse in Staten Island, New York, became the first warehouse to unionize. Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smiles, a former employee fired during the COVID-19 pandemic for leading a protest bringing attention to harmful work conditions, led the effort.
“We went for the top dog because we want every other industry, every other business to know that things have to change,” Miles said during a victory speech outside the National Labor Relations Board office in New York. “We gone unionize, and we’re not going to quit our jobs anymore.”
Online retail giant files appeal
Amazon has filed an appeal to overturn the election. According to court documents obtained by the Associated Press, the online retail giant says the ALU tainted the voting process by passing out cannabis to employees and “intentionally created hostile confrontations in front of eligible voters.
ALU’s second unionization vote fails
The appeal follows Amazon’s first victory, when a union vote at a second warehouse in Staten Island, New York, overwhelmingly failed, according to The New York Times.
New generation, new labor union movement
“This is a reflection of the changing demographic of the workforce,” said Dr. Sean Edmund Rogers, Spachman Professor of Human Relations and Labor Relations at the University of Rhode Island. “You know, firms have had the upper hand for a long, long time. As I mentioned, labor union density has gone down in the United States for many decades right from its peak in the `50s or so, until now.”
Baristas take up union fight
Since the pandemic began, dozens of Starbucks baristas across the U.S. have elected to form a union. According to the non-profit organization, More Perfect Union, more than 30 unionized Starbucks are now in the country.
Geniuses expect to hold union vote
Apple is also reckoning with a union fight of its own. In recent weeks, stores in Atlanta and New York have started the process of filing petitions to hold union elections.
Union petitions up in 2022
According to the National Labor Relations Board, union representation petitions are up 57 percent (1,174 petitions) in the first half of the fiscal year 2022 (compared to 748 petitions in 2021).
Edmund Rogers expects the workforce will continue to trend towards forming unions.
“I don’t necessarily think this, you know, gets rid of, or replaces or even supplants the work that unions have been doing for a long, long time, but it speaks to new opportunities,” he said.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: THIS WAS THE FACE OF THE LABOR UNION MOVEMENT DURING ITS PEAK IN THE 1940’S AND 50’S.
AND, THIS IS IT NOW! (POINT TO PICTURE OR VIDEO ON GREEN SCREEN/THAT’S MY THOUGHT PROCESS HERE) MORE THAN 70-YEARS LATER, A NEW GENERATION OF WORKERS IS SPEARHEADING A NEW LABOR UNION MOVEMENT. LET ME EXPLAIN.
AMAZON, APPLE AND STARBUCKS… ARE JUST A FEW OF THE COMPANIES FEELING THE HEAT OF THE UNIONS…
LET’S START WITH THE WORLD’S LARGEST ONLINE RETAILER. IN APRIL, WORKERS AT A STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK AMAZON WAREHOUSE BECAME THE FIRST TO UNIONIZE.
NATS: “pops champagne bottle”
JIMMIE: THE GRASSROOTS EFFORT LED BY CHRIS SMILES, A FORMER AMAZON EMPLOYEE. SMILES WAS FIRED IN 20-20 FOR LEADING A PROTEST OVER WORKING CONDITIONS.
THE VICTORY BY THE AMAZON LABOR UNION WAS A MONUMENTAL WIN FOR A YOUNGER AND MORE OUTSPOKEN WORKFORCE.
CHRIS SMILES: “We went for the top dog because we want every other industry, every other business to know that things have changed. We gone, we’re gone unionize and we’re not going to quit our jobs anymore.”
YET THE MOVEMENT IS STILL FULL STEAM. WHILE THE A-L-U GOT ITS FIRST UNION WIN, WORKERS FAILED TO UNIONIZE A SECOND WAREHOUSE IN MAY.
AMAZON IS ALSO CHALLENGING THE FIRST VOTE IN COURT.
DESPITE THE DEADLOCK, THE UNION MOVEMENT IS FULL STEAM AHEAD.
ROGERS: “This is a reflection of the changing demographic of the workforce “
JIMMIE: DOCTOR SEAN EDMUND ROGERS IS A PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND AND HAS DONE EXTENSIVE RESEARCH ON LABOR FIGHTS.
ROGERS: “You know, firms have had the upper hand for a long, long time, as I mentioned, labor union density has gone down in the United States for many decades, right from its peak in the 50s or so, until now.”
JIMMIE: FROM WAREHOUSE TO COFFEEHOUSE — DOZENS OF STARBUCKS BARISTAS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE ALSO ELECTING TO FORM UNIONS.
THERE ARE NOW MORE THAN 30 UNIONIZED STARBUCKS IN THE COUNTRY, ACCORDING TO THE NON-PROFIT CALLED MORE PERFECT UNION.
AND, TECH GIANT APPLE IS REPORTEDLY RECKONING WITH AN ANTI-UNION FIGHT OF ITS OWN. STORES IN ATLANTA AND NEW YORK ARE IN THE PROCESS OF FILING PETITIONS TO HOLD UNION ELECTIONS.
ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, UNION REPRESENTATION PETITIONS ARE UP 57-PERCENT IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE FISCAL YEAR 20-22 COMPARED TO 20-21.
DOCTOR EDMUND ROGERS EXPECTS THE WORKFORCE WILL CONTINUE TO TREND TOWARDS ESTABLISHING UNIONS — AND SEES A FUTURE FOR NEW AGE ORGANIZERS AND THE OLD GUARD.
ROGERS: ”I don’t necessarily think this, you know, gets rid of, or replaces or even supplants the work that unions have been doing for a long, long time, but it speaks to new opportunities.”
JIMMIE: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE RESURGENCE OF LABOR UNIONS?
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