The Amazon Labor Union Affiliates with International Brotherhood of Teamsters

The Amazon Labor Union Affiliates with International Brotherhood of Teamsters

The Amazon Labor Union, formed as a grassroots organization of current and former Amazon workers in 2021, gained national attention after winning a historic union election in Staten Island. However, the group has faced challenges in negotiating a contract with Amazon, leading to rifts within the organization. With Amazon seeking to overturn the election results from 2022 and tensions rising between leader Chris Smalls and ALU members, the need for additional support became evident.

By affiliating with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, one of the largest labor unions in the U.S., the Amazon Labor Union hopes to strengthen its bargaining power and ability to negotiate with Amazon. The Teamsters established an Amazon division in 2021 to support and fund workers in their unionization efforts, making them a natural ally for the ALU. The affiliation agreement, unanimously approved by the Teamsters’ board, is pending ratification by members of both organizations.

Despite the potential benefits of joining forces with the Teamsters, the decision to affiliate has not been without controversy. The ALU Democratic Reform Caucus, a group that previously sued the union for alleged violations of its constitution, has raised concerns about the lack of a transparent membership process within the ALU. Questions have been raised about how the ALU will conduct a vote to ratify the affiliation without a definitive list of members.

In light of the current challenges and internal strife, the ALU members have voted to hold new elections for union officers. Chris Smalls, the current ALU president, has announced that he does not plan to run for reelection. The upcoming election, scheduled for July, is expected to take place in person outside of the JFK8 facility in New York. Arthur Schwartz, an attorney for the ALU Democratic Reform Caucus, has emphasized the importance of a fair and transparent election process to ensure the legitimacy of the union’s leadership.

The decision to affiliate with the Teamsters marks a significant development for the Amazon Labor Union as it navigates complex negotiations with Amazon. By strengthening its ties with a powerful and experienced labor union, the ALU hopes to overcome internal challenges and achieve better outcomes for its members. However, the road ahead is likely to be fraught with obstacles, requiring careful navigation and strong leadership to ensure the success of the union’s efforts.

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