Amazon night shift workers in Queens, New York, and Marlboro, Maryland, (near Washington, DC) walked off the job in the early hours of March 16. The walkouts – which involved about half of the shift workforce at the three delivery stations – demanded higher wages and the reinstatement of 20-minute breaks that began during the pandemic but were later stopped by Amazon . These workers are on a “megacycle” shift from 1 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Amazonians United coordinated the walkouts as an ‘escalation’ of a multi-city petition campaign, demanding $2 more an hour for megacycle workers, housing for workers who can’t work the full shift of 11 a.m. (such as parents and caregivers), company-provided Lyft rides, and a return to 20-minute breaks. (amazoniansunited.org)
In Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon warehouse workers vote by mail in a second election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board on whether to be represented by the retail, wholesale and department stores. The counting of ballots will begin on March 28.
The NLRB ordered a second election because of Amazon’s illegal union busting in Bessemer’s first election last year – but the company has not stopped its widespread practices of misinformation and intimidation. Due to high turnover due to intolerable and unsafe working conditions, half of the workers voting in this election did not vote in the previous election.
Meanwhile, the Amazon Labor Union is preparing for an NLRB election at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, which will take place March 25-30. The ALU is organizing around an eight-point program of demands that includes better compensation, safety, paid sick leave, overtime, dedicated shuttle service, the reinstatement of 20-minute breaks and the possibility for the union to present its position during “training sessions”. These mandatory meetings are when Amazon intimidates and presents one-sided, union-busting propaganda. (amazonlaborunion.org)
From mass telephone banking to solidarity rallies, ALU uses a range of tactics designed to win elections. UNITE HERE Local 100 and Workers Assembly Against Racism in New York made their offices available to ALU for phone banking.
In Southern California, Amazon Flex drivers rallied outside an Amazon warehouse on March 17 to demand higher pay to offset rising fuel prices. These drivers must use their own personal vehicle and pay all accompanying costs such as gas and tolls.
More progress in Starbucks labor campaign
March 18 marked another milestone in Starbucks’ labor organizing campaign, with the Westmoreland Starbucks in Portland, Oregon becoming the 150th store to run for office in the NLRB election. A day later, the Overland store near Kansas City was hit by an unfair labor practices strike that kept the store closed all day. The strikers carried signs reading “Don’t let them grind you down” and “Change is coming, feel the heat.”
This follows a day-long ULP strike at a Starbucks in Denver on March 11.
The NLRB has filed ULP complaints against Starbucks alleging unlawful surveillance, threats, intimidation, terminations and more. Starbucks fired union organizers in Memphis, Tennessee; Buffalo, New York; and Phoenix. But workers aren’t intimidated — Starbucks Workers United has won three more union elections in the Buffalo area where the union campaign was launched and is now headquartered.
Starbucks had closed one of these three stores for two months; workers who signed union cards had to be transferred to other stores. Most workers voting in the representation election were hired after an election was filed with the NLRB. But the union still won the vote!
Coffee resistance is not limited to Starbucks. Workers at Great Lakes Coffee in Detroit have been on strike since February 16. Union and community supporters joined several solidarity rallies and marches, the latest of which was on March 20. The “coffee mates” are fighting to be represented by UNITE HERE Local 24.
There are numerous ongoing strikes across the country, including teachers in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, and Forest Park, Illinois; maintenance technicians at Cummins in Concord, Massachusetts; musicians with the San Antonio Symphony; and members of the United Steelworkers (USW) in Sherwin Williams in Greater Cleveland.
The wave of working-class resistance, initially identified with the month of “Striketober,” shows no signs of waning. We are running towards a Labor Spring.