Labor advocates added big names to their cause on Sunday as Amazon Labor Union organizers rallied ahead of another big election this week.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rallied alongside Amazon Labor Union leaders on Staten Island on Sunday, just one day ahead of a vote to unionize a second Amazon warehouse known at LDJ5 – just across the street from the JFK8 warehouse that voted to unionize earlier this month.
Ocasio-Cortez congratulated the union on the historic election at JFK8, calling it “incredible, and remarkable,” and urged the company to formally recognize the ALU by coming to the negotiating table. The company publicly supported its employees’ right to join a union, but also spent nearly $5 million on efforts to deter organizing.
“They won the union election fair and square and we have the first unioned Amazon right here in New York City,” the congresswoman said, speaking to a crowd of 300 warehouse workers, union members, and supporters. “It was the first domino to fall, the first one. We’re not gonna stop until the United States of America is union made.”
At JFK8, 55% of workers elected to join the ALU earlier this month. Organizers said they were hoping to replicate that win at LDJ5. In support of the next election starting Monday, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez said the unionizing efforts on Staten Island were just the beginning.
Christian Smalls, an organizer who helped lead the JFK8 campaign, said his team was hoping to inspire union movements at other major corporations across the country.
"We got emails from Walmart, we got emails from Target, Dollar General, from Apple, from Starbucks. We are going to take over the country. The workers are," Smalls said. "This is just the beginning. Stay tuned."
“What you are doing here is sending a message [to] every worker in America, that the time is now to stand up to our oligarchy,” Sanders said. “To stand up to this excessive corporate greed and create an economy that works for all, not just the few.”
Speaking to Gothamist after the rally on Sunday, LDJ5 worker Madeline Wesley said it was important to see national figures like the senator and congresswoman throwing support behind the cause.
“It’s important for the workers at LDJ5 to see that the community supports us in our fight,” said Wesley, who also works as treasurer of the Amazon Labor Union. “That we are not alone in this.”
The unionization vote is open through Friday.