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Amazon’s first labor union ‘pretty much broke’: report

The Amazon Workers Union, the first group of Amazon employees to organize in the United States, is reportedly struggling to make a living and is far from securing a labor contract with the e-commerce giant. executives told the Wall Street Journal.

ALU Vice President Michelle Nieves told the Journal that the organization is “almost bankrupt.”

Chris Smalls, a former Amazon employee who heads the organization, also told the media that the organization does not have much money because its funding will dwindle after 2022. It is reported that in 2022, he received more than $750,000 in donations, and his net worth reached approximately 5 million yen. $118,000.

Since then, ALU has fallen into debt due to legal fees. The company plans to submit an updated financial report to the Labor Department in the coming months.

The leadership is also in turmoil. The Journal reportedHowever, growing financial difficulties are proving to be a more pressing obstacle.

ALU's predicament comes less than a year after New York City employees voted to unionize workers at the Staten Island warehouse, known as JFK8.

A year after its victory over Amazon, the Amazon union has exhausted $750,000 in donations and is struggling to make ends meet, according to the Wall Street Journal. Reuters
ALU vice president Michelle Nieves (pictured) said the group was “almost bankrupt”. Michelle Valentin Nieves/X

In a March vote, fewer than 5,000 people voted in the union election, even though about 8,300 workers are based at the JFK8 warehouse.

The vote was 2,654 in favor and 2,131 against, National Labor Relations Board officials said at the time.

Amazon spokeswoman Mary Kate Paradis told the Post on Tuesday: “We strongly disagree with the election results, and as we demonstrated with dozens of witnesses and hundreds of pages of documents at JFK's 8th trial, both the NLRB and ALU are subject to undue influence. We do not believe this result represents what the majority of our team would like. ”

Since its inception, the union has relied heavily on donations to operate, much of which has already been spent, Smalls told the Journal.

Additionally, the union cannot currently collect mandatory fees from workers because it does not have a contract with Amazon.

“We don't have what we had before. No other established union is going to help us,” Smalls said in a statement, adding that in 2022 a $250,000 donation from the American Federation of Teachers and SEIU United・He mentioned the $25,000 donation from Healthcare Workers West.

However, neither organization made a donation to ALU in 2023.

“Unfortunately, we lost a year,” he added of the union's problems in recent months.

ALU is led by Chris Smalls, a former Amazon employee who was fired from his warehouse job in 2020 for protesting working conditions. Corbis via Getty Images

Smalls also revealed that he lost support after expressing support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in October.

“When I posted about Palestine, I lost thousands of followers. Then I got everyone together in DMs. [direct messages] I talked about how they supported me against Amazon,” Smalls said. shared by at that time.

“Viva Palestine all day long,” he added.

ALU has also failed to organize at other Amazon warehouses after workers at the ALB1 facility in upstate New York voted against unionizing.

Workers at other bases in California and North Carolina are also seeking union contracts, but no votes have yet been taken.

Organizers are pushing for negotiations with Amazon for higher wages and stronger job security.

Amazon, meanwhile, has consistently pushed an anti-union message to its employees, warning workers that union dues can cost them “hundreds of dollars each year from their paychecks.”

Amazon even launched a website criticizing ALU for making “big promises but offering few details about how it will achieve them.”

ALU is based at Amazon's warehouse on Staten Island, known as JFK8. Reuters
Smalls is having a hard time getting other Amazon warehouses to follow in JFK98's footsteps. Workers at a facility in upstate New York voted against forming a union. AFP (via Getty Images)

The website states that ALU “has no experience representing employees anywhere” and has “never had any control over the millions of dollars that employees would receive from their paychecks.” There is.

Company executives also planned to smear Mr. Smalls, holding a strategy meeting in 2020 that included founder and then-CEO Jeff Bezos and calling him “unsmart and unresponsive.” Vice reported immediately after the union's victory.

Smalls was fired from his job at an Amazon warehouse the same year after leading protests over working conditions. He continued to show up at JFK Flight 8's warehouse, delivering food to employees in the break room, until Amazon called the police and he was arrested for trespassing.

ALU representatives did not immediately respond to The Post's request for comment.

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