Labor advocates added big names to their cause Sunday as Amazon Labor Union organizers rallied ahead of another big election this week.
US Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez met alongside Amazon Labor union leaders in Staten Island on Sunday, just one day before a vote to unionize a second well-known Amazon warehouse in LDJ5, just across across the street from the JFK8 warehouse who voted to unionize earlier this month.
Ocasio-Cortez congratulated the union on the historic election at JFK8, calling it “incredible and remarkable,” and urged the company to formally recognize ALU by coming to the bargaining table. The company publicly supported its employees’ right to join a union, but also spent nearly $5 million in efforts to discourage organizing.
“They won the union election fairly and we have the first unionized Amazon right here in New York City,” the congresswoman said, speaking to a crowd of 300 warehouse workers, union members and supporters. “It was the first domino to fall, the first. We are not going to stop until the United States of America is made of union.”
At JFK8, 55% of workers chose to join ALU earlier this month. Organizers said they hoped to replicate that win at LDJ5. In support of the upcoming election starting Monday, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez said unionization efforts on Staten Island were just the beginning.
Christian Smalls, an organizer who helped run the JFK8 campaign, said his team hoped to inspire labor movements at other major corporations across the country.
“We get emails from Walmart, we get emails from Target, Dollar General, Apple, Starbucks. We’re going to take over the country. The workers are going to do it,” Smalls said. “This is just the beginning. Stay tuned.”
“What you are doing here is sending a message [to] every worker in America, that now is the time to stand up to our oligarchy,” Sanders said. “Tackle this excessive corporate greed and create an economy that works for everyone, not just the few.”
Speaking to Gothamist after Sunday’s rally, LDJ5 worker Madeline Wesley said it was important to see national figures like the senator and congresswoman rally behind the cause.
“It’s important that LDJ5 workers see that the community supports us in our fight,” said Wesley, who also works as treasurer for the Amazon Workers Union. “That we are not alone in this.”
Unionization voting is open through Friday.