- A rift has formed in Amazon’s union at a New York warehouse, The New York Times reported.
- Some organizers blamed the lack of a contract on union president Christian Smalls, according to the NYT.
- Smalls told Insider that these claims made “no sense” and did not represent those who started the union.
JFK8, a Staten Island-based Amazon warehouse, made history last April as the e-commerce giant’s first warehouse in the United States to successfully vote to form a union.
But in the months that followed, tension within the union escalated into two rival “factions”, The New York Times reported earlier this week.
A dozen people with close ties to Amazon’s labor union told The Times that the union had yet to win a contract or bring Amazon to the bargaining table, which they attributed in part to disagreements between union president Christian Smalls and some of the union’s former organizers. .
Sources familiar with the matter accused Smalls of not spending enough time on efforts to secure a contract for JFK8 for months as he was busy traveling to other Amazon warehouses, making public appearances at labor protests and speaking out in cities like Atlanta, Philadelphia. , and London, according to the Times.
Union officials told The Times that Smalls did not spend enough time making decisions about governance or budgeting.
Smalls told Insider that it’s common for union presidents to travel and that these claims “make no sense.” He added that those making these claims “do not at all represent the black and brown workers who started this union.”
There have also been disagreements over some of the tactics proposed by the organizers, such as the idea of staging a major strike in an effort to bring Amazon to the bargaining table, The Times reported.
Smalls told The Times in an interview that efforts to secure a contract were continuing and that he did not think a strike was a good idea, saying it risked intimidating workers for fear of losing their jobs. He told The Times that his travels also helped raise donations to fund the union’s efforts until a contract was reached.
Tensions came to a head at a December meeting in which Smalls told union members that organizers who don’t want to cooperate with him should leave, according to the Times.
“Do you have a problem with me? Deuces,” he said at the reunion, according to the Times.
Amazon and Amazon Union did not respond to Insider’s immediate request for comment.
Amazon is currently challenging the results of the union vote at its Staten Island warehouse. A federal labor agency overruled his objections in January and certified the union’s status, CNBC reported, but Amazon is appealing the decision.
More recent attempts by Amazon workers to unionize have failed in Albany, New York and Bessemer, Alabama.