NLRB Files Complaint Against Amazon for Refusing to Bargain with Union

amazon labor union president chris smalls

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The National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Amazon for refusing to bargain with the Amazon Labor Union on Wednesday.

“It’s about time,” said Chris Smalls, president of the ALU, in a phone call with Motherboard. “We’ve been patiently waiting, and there’s nothing patient about waiting against a trillion-dollar company while they continue union-busting. I’m happy to share the news with the members, we’re going to blast it out today.” 


Motherboard has extensively reported on Amazon’s anti-union efforts at warehouses and delivery stations around the U.S. 

Seth Goldstein, a lawyer at Julien, Mirer, Singla, and Goldstein who works to represent the ALU, said that the complaint was a “huge development” in the union’s now year-long fight to bargain a contract with Amazon. 

The complaint states that since April 2, 2022—one day after the workers at the JFK8 Staten Island warehouse won their election and became the ALU—Amazon had been violating the National Labor Relations Act, because it “failed and refused to bargain with the Union” and had tried to “test the certification of the Union as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of the Unit.” That certification was given to the union by U.S. labor officials earlier this year. 


Amazon has until July 26 to respond to the complaint. 

“God knows how many people have been let go without Amazon bargaining,” Goldstein said. “Weingarten rights haven’t been given to individuals. And now, we’re heading towards a trial where they’re going to be forced by the federal government to bargain with the Amazon Labor Union.”

Amazon spokesperson Mary Kate Paradis told Motherboard in an email, “This latest NLRB complaint is nothing new. The validity of the election is still being challenged through the legal process. As we’ve said since the beginning, we don’t believe this election process was fair, legitimate, or representative of the majority of what our team wants.”

In the past, when faced with actions by the ALU or the NLRB, Amazon has filed appeals against them

“That’s their game, to appeal everything,” Smalls said. “Our legal counsel is going to help us out with navigating that process. But we’ll be well-prepared, as we always have been from the beginning. And we’re going to take them on as we always have. Hopefully, if this company continues to preach that they care about their workers in good faith, they’ll just drop it all and recognize and come to the table. But we know that’s not going to be the case.” 

When asked about his organizing efforts to force Amazon to bargain, Smalls responded, “We have a very good core team that has been organizing ever since we won last year. Inside the building every week, we’re doing various different activities. Yesterday, we just had our first barbecue for the summer. We’ve been doing a lot of different activities, but most importantly is educating people on the process of how long it takes to even get to a contract. When you got 8,300 members, especially forming a new union, there’s a lot of unknowns out there.” 

“Whoever you are, this helps everybody,” Goldstein said. “This decision will give rights to everybody in the building, no matter who they support.” 

Smalls and the ALU also faced internal challenges recently. Smalls has faced increasing opposition within the union this year. On Monday, a reform caucus of 80 workers within the union filed a lawsuit against leadership for not holding democratic elections for leadership positions and having no quantifiable plan to force Amazon to come to the table.

Update: This story originally said that Amazon could go to trial over the complaint. The story has been updated to clarify that Amazon must file an answer to the complaint by July 26.


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