Stock Groups

Union leader slams Amazon’s labor practices at Senate hearing


Christian Smalls, founder and CEO of Amazon Labor Union, speaks at a Senate Budget Committee hearing held in Washington, D.C., U.S.A on Thursday, 5 May 2022. “Should taxpayer dollars be given to businesses that violate Labor Laws?”

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Chris Smalls was a former AmazonA worker, as well as the leader of an innovative labor union challenged senators on Thursday about tech giant’s labor records.

Bernie Sanders, the Chairman of Senate Budget Committee, called the hearing as part of his pushFor the White House not to offer federal contracts to Amazon and other companies that have been accused of using unfair labor practices. Sanders made a remark about Jeff Bezos the Amazon founder and executive chair, which he was not able to attend but who was also invited. He said that he discouraged unionization in the company.

Smalls serves as president of Amazon Labor Union. It is a grassroots group led by ex- and current employees. Workers at the Amazon warehouse in Staten Island were last month. voted in support of the company’s first U.S. unionThis was in spite of a strong-arm Amazon opposition. However, the ALU could not replicate this success when employees at another Staten Island warehouse reacted to it. rejected unionization.

According to Smalls, Amazon is violating labor laws with impunity and should therefore be prevented from receiving government contracts.

Smalls stated in his testimony that Amazon and other employers cannot receive tax money from the government if they violate workers’ rights or engage in illegal union-busting behaviour. These employers cannot be granted federal contracts. They cannot be eligible for taxpayer subsidies from the state or local governments.

Amazon representatives didn’t respond immediately to our request for comment.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is the ranking senator on Senate Budget Committee, called the topic of the hearing “radical” but criticized Sanders’s focus on Amazon.

Graham stated, “This is an attempt to achieve the outcome that you desire using the United States Senate.” It is dangerous. Although you can hold oversight hearings as many times as you want, you have already determined that Amazon is a fraud company. This is your political bias.

Graham’s response was swift and firm. Smalls said that he seemed to be referring more to the business and companies in his speech. However, he forgot that it is the people who are responsible for making these businesses work, and therefore, they don’t have protection.

Graham then asked Smalls to confirm that he had filed any complaint against Amazon. Smalls was fired by Amazon in 2020After claiming that he had violated the social distancing guidelines, Smalls was fired. Smalls claimed he was fired because he staged a protest during the first weeks of 2009. the coronavirus pandemicTo call for more safety precautions. There was widespread outrage at his firing, including a complaintLetitia James (New York Attorney General), who sought to make Amazon rehire Smalls.

Graham responded that Smalls believed that the system for holding corporations accountable was not working.

Smalls replied, “That’s the truth.”

Smalls, along with Sean O’Brien (Teamsters General President), were present at the hearing. Teamsters last year announcedA renewed effort to organize Amazon facilities is underway has taken aim atCompany’s efforts to expand across the nation.

Smalls will be accompanied by other organizers at the White House on Thursday. They include a group that organizes Starbucks workers. The meeting will discuss their extraordinary efforts to organize labor unions in workplaces. a White House official told Reuters.

WATCH: Amazon Labor Union wins — president breaks down future decisions