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'David Beats Goliath': Workers in New York Vote to Form Amazon's First-Ever Union in US

"We want to thank Jeff Bezos for going to space, because when he was up there, we were signing people up," said Christian Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union.

Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, New York won their election Friday to form the retail giant's first-ever union in the United States, a landmark victory for the labor movement in the face of aggressive union-busting efforts from one of the world's most powerful companies.

According to an initial tally released by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), there were 2,654 votes in favor of recognizing a union and 2,131 against. The number of disputed ballots, 67, is not nearly enough to change the outcome.

The historic unionization drive at the JFK8 fulfillment center was spearheaded by the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), a worker-led group not affiliated with any established union. Christian Smalls, the president of ALU, was fired by Amazon in 2020 after he led a protest against the company's poor workplace safety standards in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

"When Covid-19 came into play, Amazon failed us," Smalls said during a press conference after the union victory was announced. "We want to thank Jeff Bezos for going to space, because when he was up there, we were signing people up."