Winter is Coming
As the leaves fall, the temperature drops, and the clock jumps back an hour, we have entered the autumn of open struggle with the Amazon bosses, where both advances and setbacks can be expected as par for the course. In the face of Amazon management’s constant lies, petty harassment, and intimidation, we will not be deterred, and we will not be discouraged.
Winter is coming, and the whitewalkers are already among us: not only union busters but also HR representatives from all over the country are holed up at the Hilton Garden Inn down the street from Amazon’s Staten Island warehouses for at least the next two months (as one of them recently admitted in a captive audience meeting)—with all expenses paid by Amazon as they subtly mislead, intimidate, and outright lie to workers in order to stop our worker union campaign. They are settling in for a long, bitter winter campaign, but we’re ready for it too.
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
You may have seen the news last week: “Nascent Amazon union withdraws petition in bid to unionize Staten Island workers,” as the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post reported. Amazon management made sure to send a message on A to Z to all of us about this as well. This report is technically true, but not at all what it sounds like, and it is no reason for dismay.
The details: On Friday, November 12, 2021, the National Labor Relations Board informed the Amazon Labor Union that many of the signatures submitted in our petition for an election were no longer valid. Amazon’s 150% annual turnover rate—a consequence of the abysmal working conditions which we as organized workers seek to improve—means that many of the workers who have signed the petition since we started the drive in April are no longer employed at the Amazon warehouses in Staten Island. As a result of Amazon’s aggressive delaying tactics and resistance to formally recognizing an independent union of Amazon workers, the ALU had to temporarily withdraw the petition we filed on October 25th, 2021.
But have no fear! Our fight isn’t over, nor has it been put on hold. It hasn’t even slowed down: if anything, it’s speeding up! We’re still in the warehouses organizing. We’re still supporting and protecting workers from the unfair labor practices of Amazon bosses. And we’re still at the tent, collecting signatures so we can refile our petition soon. All that Amazon has accomplished is slightly delay the inevitable. We’ve already collected hundreds more signatures from workers since the NLRB gave us the news about those invalid signatures of former workers. And we are stronger than ever, and getting stronger every day.
Time to Level Up
That being said, the strength of the ALU depends on every one of our members, so we are calling on everyone in the union to step up—lead organizers included—and take our commitment to the next level by helping spread the word to all workers about what the union is, why it’s important, and why we all need to sign cards and encourage our coworkers to sign cards and get involved. You can stop by the ALU tent to pick up physical cards for others to sign, as well as smaller cards with a QR code that people can scan to sign up electronically. The electronic authorization form can be found at: amazonlaborunion.org/sign
We also need all of your help to counteract the active misinformation campaign that Amazon is running under the guise of “worker education about unions.” Check out the articles in the press section this week for examples of how Staten Island workers are responding to the union busting lies in these meetings. The whole country is taking notice. Speak up and respond to their misinformation with facts and informed questions:
When the union busters say “The ALU is not part of Amazon,” or “The ALU is a third party,” challenge them on what they mean, since the ALU is made by and for Amazon workers like us.
When they say they value “direct communication,” ask them if bringing in HR managers from across the country to say false things to New York workers about their own union is their model for “direct communication.” Ask them if they’ve ever visited the ALU tent and talked directly to any worker organizers there. (No, they haven’t.)
When they say “The ALU will make you pay union dues,” remind workers that dues will be decided by all of us together, AFTER we negotiate a new contract for higher wages. And there will be no “fines, fees, assessments”: this is just a lie. Ask the union busters why Amazon is unwilling to pay their Tier 1 associates a living wage without having to work overtime, if they are so concerned about their workers’ paychecks. Ask them why Amazon has systematically underpaid its workers even the wages they are supposed to be earning, for many years.
When they say “The ALU is inexperienced and won’t be able to change anything,” ask them why their company is spending thousands of dollars per day to prevent the ALU from making change.
We will need to do more than just collect signatures and refile our petition for election to win this union campaign against one of the most aggressively anti-union companies in the country! So we are also focusing on increasing our organizing capacity: we need to get bigger, better, bolder, stronger, more creative, more strategic, and more energetic in everything we do. We need more people engaging in more activities with more fresh ideas to see this campaign through to success and beyond. To that end, we are creating new ALU committees to focus strategically on the many different areas of activity that we have already been engaged in up until now in more informal ways. And we invite all of you to join any of the groups that sound interesting to you, or suggest new ones we haven’t thought of yet.
Here is a list of the new committees, in addition to the newsletter committee that brings this newsletter to you each week:
Workers Committee - People training to be and acting as de facto shop stewards. Primarily responsible for organizing workers, educating them on the union, bringing them into union activism. Organize shifts to help bring other people into union activism such as getting signatures, getting petitions signed.
Education Committee: Organize workshops, study groups, the ALU library, develop study materials on past and contemporary labor history—as it relates to Amazon and elsewhere—and other topics beneficial for Amazon workers to learn about.
Research Committee: Investigate and report back on any questions and topics the union needs specific research on.
Events Committee: Organize events: rallies, protests, fundraisers, movie nights, picnics, bar nights, whatever! This will help us build solidarity and community.
Materials Committee: Responsible for the production of flyers, cards, posters, shirts, stickers, buttons, and any other swag or materials required.
Social Media Committee: Manage content on social media channels and activate others to post and share.
Website Committee: Maintain and update the website, and respond to emails received through email@example.com.
Press Committee: Track and record all ALU press coverage and interviews, maintain contact list of reporters, produce press releases, craft, advance, and amplify specific narratives to the press.
Compliance/People's HR Committee: Respond to worker reports of management abuse, defend workers rights (Weingarten and otherwise), pursue NLRB violations.
To join one of these committees, first talk with any ALU organizer to sign up for the broader ALU Organizing Committee, and download the encrypted Telegram chat app. This is the primary digital tool we use to keep in touch and share news, thoughts, digital resources, and so on. From there, we can get you involved in any of the committees that interest you.
Can’t Stop Us Now
The NLRB decision on the signatures is one of a few challenges we’ve faced recently, and we want you to know that none of them will bring us down. In addition to the union busters, the anti-union propaganda, and the captive audience meetings, Amazon management has been calling the police on us more often, and putting more pressure on them to intimidate us (spoiler alert: it’s not working). Especially, as the weather gets colder, Amazon’s newest petty tactic is to try to take away our heat: the firepit that so many workers have enjoyed after a long shift while waiting for the MTA buses to arrive.
After months of barbecues and overnight campouts roasting marshmallows around the firepit in front of Amazon, the management sent the NYPD out to the ALU tent yet again on Monday, and this time the cops arrested ALU organizer Brett Daniels, even though Brett and Chris complied with their request regarding our firepit. This was just a petty power play, but it will backfire. We got their names and badges. These cops are getting massive charges.
A couple of days later, they sent the FDNY to put out our fire. But we’ve got a generator, we’ve got portable heaters, and we will be upgrading our structures to withstand the winter. We got a bigger, better tent to set up on the other side of the MTA bathroom, in front of the orange ALU letters tied into the fence—but sadly the storm winds destroyed it less than 24 hours after we put it up. No matter: we still have the original tent, and we’ll be erecting something stronger soon enough. Stay tuned for more news on that front. We’re unstoppable.
Black Friday Action
All around the world, Amazon workers and allies in at least 20 countries will be taking action to protest against Amazon next week on Black Friday, November 26, in a coalition of dozens of organizations called Make Amazon Pay. In France, warehouse workers across the country are planning work stoppages, and in Italy, where unionized Amazon workers have repeatedly gone on strike and recently won greater worker decision-making authority over operations, Amazon delivery drivers plan to go on strike once again.
In New York, in coordination with our allies in the Workers Assembly Against Racism, we will be gathering at 212 Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan at 3 p.m. for a protest in front of Jeff Bezos’s luxury penthouse. We encourage everyone to come out and join us for a show of strength and protest against Amazon’s anti-worker practices, in solidarity with Amazon workers across the globe. Let’s make Amazon pay.