Chris Smalls Goes From Being Fired From Amazon To Leading Historic Victory Of Its First-Ever Union
Photo Credit: Michael Nagle

Chris Smalls Goes From Being Fired From Amazon To Leading Historic Victory Of Its First-Ever Union

History was made in Staten Island, NY to kick off the new month of April.

On April 1, Amazon workers in the city celebrated a major win against Jeff Bezos after voting to unionize the Amazon Staten Island warehouse, Vox reports.

With the retail giant having a long history of being anti-union since its inception, there were 2,654 votes for the union and over 2,131 against, which “marks the first time a majority of workers at an Amazon facility in the US have voted to join a union.”

The historic victory was led by Amazon Labor Union founder Chris Smalls.

“@amazon wanted to make me the face of the whole unionizing efforts against them…welp there you go! @JeffBezos @DavisZapolsky CONGRATULATIONS @amazonlabor We worked had fun and made History #ALU #ALUfortheWin welcome the 1st union in America for Amazon,” Smalls wrote via Twitter on the day of the win.

Following the announcement of the big milestone, the new union is working to negotiate a contract — a collective bargaining agreement — with Amazon, according to the outlet. Its members will push for a minimum of $30 an hour for workers, longer breaks, and eliminating mandatory overtime outside of a few peak weeks for online shopping.

Along with the wins, come the lows. Despite the win, Amazon is reportedly considering filing objections against the Amazon Labor Union.

“We’re disappointed with the outcome of the election in Staten Island because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees,” the company said in a statement, according to the outlet.

Who Is Chris Smalls?

Reuters reports that the 33-year-old former rapper started the movement against Amazon after leading a walkout for the workers of JFK8 State Island warehouse in March 2020. The movement resulted in him being fired for violating social distancing rules. Zapolsky added fuel to the fire after stating that the New Jersey native was “not smart or articulate.”

In February 2022, Smalls even went on to be arrested for “repeatedly trespassing despite warnings.”

With the odds initially stacked against him, the tables have now turned as Smalls is the hero behind organizing Amazon’s first labor union in spite of all the doubters.

“It’s the way we organized,” he said, according to Reuters. “The way I spent every single day talking to workers, rain or shine.”