By Anglika Maldonado
Source: Jacobin Magazine
After decades of union decline, Amazon workers in Staten Island have achieved the most important labor victory in the United States since the 1930s. Taking on and defeating Amazon would be a David versus Goliath story no matter who led the effort, but it is especially stunning that the successful unionization drive at the JFK8 warehouse was initiated by the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), an upstart, independent, worker-led effort.
ALU leaders include both former employees like Christian Smalls, who was fired from the JFK8 warehouse in 2020 after organizing a walkout, and a small crew of worker leaders inside the warehouse. While much of the national media attention has understandably focused on Smalls, the remarkable story of how workers on the inside of the building brought about this stunning upset largely remains to be told.
Few people are better placed to tell this story than Angelika Maldonado, the twenty-seven-year-old chair of ALU’s Workers Committee. One of the key leaders responsible for yesterday’s historic victory, Maldonado works as a packer in the outbound department on the night shift at JFK8. After yesterday’s vote, she sat down with Jacobin’s Eric Blanc to discuss how they accomplished the seemingly impossible — and what organizing lessons workers across the country can take from their efforts.