For the first time in its history, Amazon will be forced to recognize a trade union in the United States.
Workers in a New York facility voted 55% in favor of joining the Amazon Labor Union.
Chris Smalls, a former Amazon employee who made a name for himself campaigning against unsafe working conditions at the retailer during the pandemic, is the group’s leader.
Mr. Smalls’ triumph is a big setback for Amazon, which had fought unionization hard.
However, in Alabama, where the corporation was facing a different union campaign, the company looked to have fended off activists in a tight race that might still be overturned by challenged ballots.
The two elections together represent a watershed moment for activists who have long criticized Amazon’s labor standards as the country’s second-largest employer.
Mr. Smalls announced the victory on Twitter, writing, “We worked, had fun, and made history,” a play on the company’s tagline. “It’s ALU all the way.”
Amazon’s defeat by Mr. Smalls and his team of worker-organizers was a “very major deal,” according to Rebecca Givan, a professor of labor studies at Rutgers University, who called it a “David and Goliath narrative” that defied the odds.
But she told him that when it comes to contract talks, he’ll be up against it again.
“Amazon will do all it can to undo this success, to disband these workers, and to halt the momentum that will certainly follow this victory,” she said.