Daily Column – 2nd April 2022

Pete Davidson isn’t the most well-known Staten Islander any longer. Employees at an Amazon warehouse in the city decided to unionise, making it the company’s first site to do so. It is one of the most significant victories for organised labour in decades.

Employees voted 2,654 in favour of the union and 2,131 against. More than half of the workers who were entitled to vote did so.

This unexpected result will undoubtedly send shockwaves through corporate America. Amazon is the country’s second-largest private employer, and it has resisted unionisation efforts among its employees. However, if organised labour gains a foothold, it might spark a larger movement that threatens to upset Amazon’s carefully controlled relationship with its employees.

Take a look at what’s going on at another Seattle-based behemoth, Starbucks, to see how the domino effect works.

In a first for the corporation, two Buffalo-area locations decided to unionise in December.

Since then, more than 140 sites have expressed aspirations to unionise, with nine stores having already done so.

The fight for fairer treatment by Amazon employees contrasts sharply with the company’s executive compensation. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, who took over for Jeff Bezos last year, received $212 million in total remuneration in 2021, according to the business. Only $175,000 came from his normal income, with the remainder coming from an Amazon stock award of 61,000 shares. He was paid 6,474 times more than the average Amazon employee.

Big picture: While organised labor’s win in Staten Island is remarkable, it is the exception rather than the rule. For the second time, a union effort at Amazon’s Bessemer, AL, warehouse appears to be doomed. Moreover, only 6.1 percent of the country’s private-sector workers are currently members of unions, which is close to a historic low.

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