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Amazon workers on Staten Island make history, secure votes for union

By Rich Klein
Warehouse workers at an Amazon facility in Hawthorne, Calif., in late 2020 expressed concerns to the company about the impact of COVID-19 on employees. On Friday, warehouse workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, N.Y., became the first Amazon employees in the nation to successfully vote to form a union. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
1 of 3 | Warehouse workers at an Amazon facility in Hawthorne, Calif., in late 2020 expressed concerns to the company about the impact of COVID-19 on employees. On Friday, warehouse workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, N.Y., became the first Amazon employees in the nation to successfully vote to form a union. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

April 1 (UPI) -- Workers at an Amazon warehouse facility on New York's Staten Island made history on Friday as they secured enough votes to successfully form a union that now poses a direct challenge to the company's labor model.

The Staten Island Advance reported that, as of 12:30 p.m., there were 2,654 "yes" votes and 2,131 "no" votes. The National Labor Relations Board, which has to approve the vote, is expected to release an official tally. The workers needed a 51% majority vote to move forward with the creation of a union.

The facility, located in one of the five boroughs of New York City, becomes the first group of Amazon employees in the United States to unionize.

Workers at the facility were seen celebrating after the vote in a video posted to YouTube by Fox5 New York.

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"This is the catalyst for the revolution," said Chris Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union who was interviewed in the video.

Smalls was fired by Amazon after he helped organize a work stoppage at the Staten Island warehouse to protest what he called a lack of COVID-19 protective gear and hazard pay.

According to the ALU's website, it is demanding the following from the e-commerce giant: increased pay appropriate to the high cost of living, actual paid sick days, job security "so we can't be fired at will" and a shuttle service for workers from all five New York City boroughs.

In April 2021, a similar effort by Amazon workers in Alabama was rejected as 1,800 opposed forming a union and 800 supported one.

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