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United States: Amazon will have its first union

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A historic first. The Amazon group will have its first union in the United States. A victory for a small group of employees of a New York warehouse who voted by majority to create the organization.

According to a count broadcast online, 2,654 employees ticked “yes” to be represented by the independent organization Amazon Labor Union, created almost a year ago, against 2,131 who voted “no”.

When the results were announced, applause rang out among the small crowd gathered for the occasion at the bottom of the building in the Brooklyn district where the counting was organized, noted an AFP journalist.

Union President Christian Smalls celebrated the news by uncorking a bottle of champagne. He then ironically thanked Amazon boss Jeff Bezos for going to space, “because while he was up there, we were able to start a union.”

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A total of 8,325 workers from the JFK8 warehouse located in the Staten Island district, in a large industrial area, were on the voters’ list, even if some of them no longer work in the company. Called to vote from March 25 to 30 in a tent set up in front of the warehouse, 4,852 employees slipped a ballot into the ballot box.

A first for Amazon

Amazon, one of the largest employers in the United States, had so far succeeded in repelling the desires of employees wishing to regroup in the country.

“We may have spent a total of 120,000 dollars”, raised via crowdfunding campaigns or sales of t-shirts, relates Madeline Wesley, member of ALU.

The company, for its part, hired specialized consultants and summoned the employees to several mandatory meetings in the run-up to the election to present to them the disadvantages of a union.

On the decline for several decades, the unions have won several symbolic victories in the United States in recent months, starting with the explicit support of the American president. Joe Biden also reacted to the news, saying he was “happy that employees are making sure to be heard”.

The creation of the first union in a Starbucks coffee directly managed by the chain in the United States in December also generated enthusiasm, employees in more than 160 establishments having since asked for the organization of a vote.

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