In NYC, another front in Amazon's union battles

"Jeff Bezos, the former CEO, went to space, came back, said 'Thank you for paying for it.' That was a slap in the face to everybody. So, what this company represents is putting profits above people. They're ran completely off of metrics. We watch our coworkers get carried out on stretchers every other day, and we want to fight back for what we rightfully deserve."

That was Chris Smalls, who is leading an effort by Amazon warehouse workers to unionize in New York on grounds for better pay and safer conditions - the second attempt by workers at the tech giant to unionize this year, at a company that has long resisted such campaigns.

Reuters met Smalls earlier this month as he petitioned regulators at the National Labor Relations Board to authorize an official vote of employees, to form that union.

"This is just the beginning, you know? This is a phase. This is like a warm-up round, but now the fight is really about to begin."

The workers in Staten Island are just one side in a multifaceted issue for Amazon.

That first attempt to unionize this year, in Alabama, failed by a two-to-one voting margin.

In New York, Amazon says it wants the voices of its employees to be heard and that it focuses on improving. But a representative also told us they were skeptical that union supporters had gathered enough of what the company called "legitimate employee signatures" to file the labor board petition in the first place.

Smalls says Amazon has been distributing anti-union literature to employees. And back in Alabama, the regulators say they're reviewing calls for another election on allegations that Amazon violated labor laws during the first one.

Smalls no longer works for Amazon. He was fired last year for allegedly breaking a paid pandemic quarantine to protest work conditions.

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