AOC, Bernie team up in support of new Amazon warehouse unionization effort in Staten Island
It comes weeks after the first successful effort to unionize at the online retail giant, also in New York.
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On Sunday, April 24, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders joined a rally with members of the Amazon Labor union in Staten Island.
Earlier this month, the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) became the first-ever union to successfully organize Amazon employees.
Sanders stepped on stage to celebrate the historic achievement and urge workers in more Amazon warehouses to follow in their footsteps.
Brought em to the trenches today Solidarity Sunday today might have to become a Union Holiday the way we rallied today‼️ @amazonlabor @DerrickPalmer_ @BernieSanders @AOC #LDJ5 #VoteYes #ALUfortheWin x 2 ✊🏽 pic.twitter.com/XaHrGqksew— Christian Smalls (@Shut_downAmazon) April 25, 2022
Addressing Christian Smalls, the union organizer behind the successful New York vote, Sanders told him that he is an inspiration to millions of workers across the country.
“When you got a corporation that is making huge profits, you can pay your workers good wages, provide good benefits, and you can have decent working conditions, not what you got right now,” Sanders said, criticizing Amazon’s treatment of its workers.
On Monday, April 25, about 1,500 workers at another New York Amazon warehouse (LDJ5) will be eligible to vote in a union election. The National Labor Relations Board will begin counting ballots on May 2.
“We have another election tomorrow, and we’re going to support them in that. And the day after that, and the day after that, all the way. But what we need Amazon to do first and foremost is to recognize the union that won their election,” said Ocasio-Cortez.
So far, Amazon has refused to acknowledge the vote at its Staten Island fulfillment center, after it was accused of intimidating workers during the campaign with aggressive anti-union messages, and spending millions to make sure the vote failed.
.@AOC at today's union rally at Amazon in Staten Island: "What you guys did in Staten Island was just the beginning. It was the first domino to fall.” She noted noting that workers at a second Amazon facility on Staten Island were voting on Monday.https://t.co/rdlxmLgpMp— Steven Greenhouse (@greenhousenyt) April 24, 2022
“You got to treat our people right. You can give our workers a bathroom break, you can ensure you’re treating people well and giving them solid health care benefits, and that they don’t have a three-hour commute to and from work, that they can afford a house they can live in, that people are not going to be sleeping in their cars,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Sanders also took aim at Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, whom he said were “sabotaging” America’s working class by opposing President Joe Biden’s social reform agenda.
He did not mention the senators by name, but it was clear he was calling out the two Democrats whose opposition to the Build Back Better package blocked its passage through Congress.
“To get it passed we need at least 50 Democrats who are going to stand up with the working class of this country, we don’t have it. We have a couple of people who are busy sabotaging the working-class agenda,” Sanders said.
After Sunday’s rally, LDJ5 worker Madeline Wesley told Gothamist that it was important to see national figures like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez supporting their cause.
The @amazonlabor rally on Staten Island today had Amazon workers, Starbucks workers, Teamsters, the Presidents of the flight attendants union, Bernie, AOC, and more. Seeing the rise not just of one union, but of the whole labor movement, powered by the workers, is amazing.— Read Becoming Abolitionists by Derecka Purnell (@JoshuaPotash) April 24, 2022
“It’s important for the workers at LDJ5 to see that the community supports us in our fight. That we are not alone in this,” Wesley said.
The unionization vote is open through Friday.