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Former Leaders Sue Amazon Union, Seeking Election for Union Officers

Updated: Jan 4

Former leaders of the Amazon Labor Union accuse the union of violating its own constitution and demand a court-ordered election for union officers.

At a protest outside an Amazon factory, the president of the Amazon Labor Union
Credits: AP Photo

The splinter group, A.L.U. Democratic Reform Caucus, alleges internal strife and suppression of dissent within the union.


A group of former leaders from the fledgling Amazon union in New York has filed a lawsuit against the union, claiming constitutional violations and requesting a court-mandated election for union officers. The complaint was lodged on Monday in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York.


The Amazon Labor Union, the sole certified group representing Amazon workers, is struggling to regain momentum after a surprise victory last year. However, it has faced setbacks, losing union elections at two other Amazon facilities and abandoning efforts at a third warehouse in California.


Internal conflicts and disagreements have led to resignations and protests among prominent members of the union. Media reports have highlighted a physical altercation between union president Chris Smalls and a former member. Another prominent leader, Derrick Palmer, resigned in May after his arrest in a domestic violence incident last year came to light.


Despite the initial union victory, Amazon continues to challenge it and has yet to engage in collective bargaining with


The splinter group, known as A.L.U. Democratic Reform Caucus, including the union's co-founder and former treasurer, Connor Spence, claims in the lawsuit that the union, under Smalls' direction, amended its constitution without member voting. One of the amendments includes the refusal to hold officer elections, which should have been scheduled by March 2023.


The ALU modified its constitution a month before National Labor Relations Board certification in January. The change stipulates that internal elections will occur within 90 days after the ratification of a collective bargaining agreement with Amazon, which could potentially take several years.


The reform group further accuses the union of threatening disciplinary actions against dissenting voices, creating internal disarray to stifle democratic dissent.


In response to the claims, Smalls did not provide an immediate comment on the matter.

Paragraph 9: ALU attorney Jeanne Mirer dismissed the allegations as "frivolous" in a letter to the splinter group, emphasizing that the union has followed proper procedures.


The A.L.U. Democratic Reform Caucus, comprising over 40 members, initiated a petition at the Staten Island warehouse this spring, gathering nearly 1,000 signatures in support of holding officer elections, as stated in the complaint.


Efforts to mediate and settle the issues between the two factions took place during the summer but were unsuccessful. According to the complaint, the union's executive board withdrew from the mediation process in late June.


The splinter group is seeking a court order to compel the union to hold an election for officers on or before August 30.

 
  • Former leaders of the Amazon union in New York have sued the union, alleging constitutional violations.

  • The Amazon Labor Union, the only certified group representing Amazon workers, has faced setbacks and internal conflicts.

  • The splinter group, A.L.U. Democratic Reform Caucus, accuses the union of suppressing democratic dissent.

Source: AP

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