Labor Historian: Amazon's Warehouse Victory is a Big Step, But Just a StepHistorians in the News
tags: unions, labor history, Amazon, Amazon Labor Union
It's been a big year for the American labor movement.
Thousands of workers hit the picket line for Striketober, union organizers made it to the White House, and Starbucks unions are spreading across the country.
All of that came with a rising number of workers quitting their jobs, reaching a new high in April 2021 that has continued to climb.
Ileen DeVault, a professor of labor history in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, told Insider she's had a lot of reporters calling to ask if these events are changing the trajectory of the decades-long decline in union-membership rates. Her answer was simple: "No."
"It's a drop in the bucket," she said, noting that unionizing a single Starbucks location would add, at most, a few dozen workers to total union membership rates. Even with the momentum and media attention, unionization rates are still at historic lows — and there's a long way to go before unions even approach the strength seen during the unionization highs of the 1950s.
"I've said over and over again that the real change would come when the first Amazon warehouse unionized," DeVault said. "I think that's a major change."
In April, that happened.
The upstart Amazon Labor Union pulled off a surprise victory at the JFK8 Staten Island warehouse — marking a first for the tech-retail behemoth that employs at least 950,000 workers nationwide. Amazon fired ALU's founder, Christian Smalls, in 2020. Now, Time Magazine asks if he's "the future of labor." Smalls recently traveled to the White House, where President Joe Biden commended him.
comments powered by Disqus
- The Debt Ceiling Law is now a Tool of Partisan Political Power; Abolish It
- Amitai Etzioni, Theorist of Communitarianism, Dies at 94
- Kagan, Sotomayor Join SCOTUS Cons in Sticking it to Unions
- New Evidence: Rehnquist Pretty Much OK with Plessy v. Ferguson
- Ohio Unions Link Academic Freedom and the Freedom to Strike
- First Round of Obama Administration Oral Histories Focus on Political Fault Lines and Policy Tradeoffs
- The Tulsa Race Massacre was an Attack on Black People; Rebuilding Policies were an Attack on Black Wealth
- British Universities are Researching Ties to Slavery. Conservative Alumni Say "Enough"
- Martha Hodes Reconstructs Her Memory of a 1970 Hijacking
- Jeremi Suri: Texas Higher Ed Conflict "Doesn't Have to Be This Way"
- New transcript of Ayn Rand at West Point in 1974 shows she claimed “savage" Indians had no right to live here just because they were born here
- The Mexican War Suggests Ukraine May End Up Conceding Crimea. World War I Suggests the Price May Be Tragic if it Doesn't
- The Vietnam War Crimes You Never Heard Of