An announcement that JFK8 workers from Amazon in Staten Island had won the vote form the first union at an Amazon warehouse in the United States, Chris Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), sarcastically sent his gratitude to Amazon’s founder: “We want to thank Jeff Bezos for going to space, because when he was up there, we were signing people up.”
In an interview for “The Daily Show,” Smalls said that the workers organized outside of the Democratic and Republican parties because “We want to make sure that it’s all inclusive and put workers in the driver’s seat. That’s the ultimate power…Having the workers in the driver’s seat, and having them at the negotiating table, putting together a contract that protects them…that’s the best thing ever.”
The ALU is also available organized separatelyFrom traditional and bureaucratic union leaderships that benefit from the members of their workers without protecting their interests.
The rebellion and power in Smalls’ words resonate in each person who knows firsthand the methods of exploitation and precarization used against workers in Amazon facilities, not just in the United States, but across the world. Amazon employs more than 1,000,000 people and is exploited by the same boss.
All Amazon workers stand to gain from the ALU’s fight for better working conditions. Workers all around the globe are following what is happening in the United States, and sending their support. Below is a collection of texts sent by Amazon workers to Costa Rica. Left VoiceIn solidarity with fellow Amazon workers in the United States.
Victoria, Heavy-Bulky Services:
The news of your victory has been heard by the entire world. You proved that it is possible without millions of dollar and without the help of the wealthy. Although our work in the call centre is different, we understand precarization and the pressures of unattainable metrics. We are also here to support you in your fight. We send strength and support for your future struggles!
You have so much courage and guts that it is hard to achieve what you have accomplished. Amazon will always try to make it difficult for workers to meet, discuss with each other, and organize for their rights. We are eager to see you win better conditions; luckily there is a movement in the United States that seems like it isn’t going to stop. Amazon needs to understand that the fulfillment center conditions are extremely precarious. They say they respect their workers, but they don’t do it for the good of the people, but to avoid bad publicity. We hope that the movement continues to grow. There are already unions across Europe. I hope that this will become a global movement.
Juan, Vendor Support:
We are inspired by what you did in Costa Rica to think about the possibilities for what we can do here. Amazon can do a lot considering the precarious position we are in and without any means of defense. Amazon has made a lot of things happen. It has organized the precarization and systematization of its workers. Consequently, the only way to fight back is to do the same – organize to unite, to form a union. Get together to meet people and voice your dissatisfaction at mistreatment and precarity. We must fight back.
You are already on the right path. This is how revolutions and change begin. Do not be intimidated or back down – you have the support of the entire working class. We all stand behind you and are proud of the work you did in the United States against Amazon. We must follow in your footsteps. This is a global process.
Original publication in Spanish on April 25, 2005 La Izquierda Diario Costa Rica.
Translation by Madeleine Freeman