Amazon Labor Union affiliates with Teamsters

The Amazon Labor Union will affiliate with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, giving the upstart union the backing of one of the most powerful forces in labor, Teamsters announced Tuesday.

Teamsters said the affiliation decision was approved unanimously by the union’s board on Tuesday, though details of the merger were not immediately made clear. The union represents about 1.3 million workers in the U.S. and Canada.

“Today is an historical day for labor in America as we now combine forces with one of the most powerful unions to take on Amazon together,” ALU President Christian Smalls said on social media platform X. “Our message is clear we want a Contract, and we want it Now. We’re putting Amazon on notice that we are coming!”

ALU formed in 2022 as a grassroots organization representing the workers of Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse facility in New York City. Workers became the first Amazon warehouse employees nationwide to be represented by a union.

The union has faced difficulty in recent years after a union drive at a second New York City Amazon facility failed, and it faced a lawsuit from former leaders over its leadership election process.

The JFK8 facility remains the only unionized Amazon warehouse in the country, and the union is in the process of negotiating its first labor contract. An Alabama warehouse unionization effort affiliated with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union also failed in 2021.

Teamsters, meanwhile, is coming off one of the union’s largest labor victories. It negotiated a new contract with UPS in July, substantially increasing wages and benefits.

Teamsters launched its own Amazon Division last year, committing to bring the disparate Amazon unionization efforts together under its banner. Amid the UPS negotiations last summer, labor experts told The Hill that Amazon is a logical next step for Teamsters expansion.

“Clearly, this is a union that has deep roots in warehousing and logistics, distribution, Amazon-type of work. And they have ambitions, I think, to try to organize workers in this industry, among them Amazon,” Bob Bussel, director of the Labor Education and Research Center at the University of Oregon, told The Hill.

“The result of this, if they’re recognizable gains for workers as a result of collective action that the union really can deliver, is that will send a very powerful signal to workers at Amazon and workers at other places that there’s a powerful union that’s really prepared to take collective action and effective action on their behalf,” he added.

Amazon has successfully resisted union efforts for years. In 2022 alone, the country spent $14 million on anti-labor consulting, more than three times as much as Starbucks, the country’s top anti-labor consulting spender in 2021.

The Hill has reached out to Teamsters and Smalls for comment.

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