Amazon warehouse worker union leader Christian Smalls was threatened with arrest yesterday while organizing at a bus stop near Albany, New York, where workers recently applied for trade union elections.
Employees at this warehouse, ALB1, located in Shodak, New York, are trying to organize Amazon Labor Union. Smalls is chairman of the group that helped create Amazon the first recognized trade union At the Staten Island warehouse where he worked. Smalls emerged as a leader in the American labor movement. speaking before Congress and: meeting with President Joe Biden In the White House.
Yesterday, Smalls organized an action at the ALB1 bus stop. The bus stop is operated by the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA), the local public transportation provider, but Amazon claims the stop is part of its private warehouse property.
In a video obtained by More Perfect Union, local police chief John Hourigan says he received a call from Amazon that organizers are disputing whether the bus stop is private or public property.
“When Amazon built this facility, they built this shelter. It doesn’t say CDTA on it. It’s not a publicly accessible shelter,” Hourigan says in the video, referring to the bus stop occupied by the small group of organizers. He gave the organizers 10 minutes to leave or he would arrest them for trespassing.
“This stop is on private property because it’s in the Amazon parking lot, and we have their permission to let customers in,” a CDTA spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Once the rider arrives at the destination, it’s the property owner’s job to handle situations with the public on their property.”
In a video of the interaction, Smalls raises questions about the controversial nature of a privately owned public bus stop.
“If there’s a homeless person getting off here, it’s the last stop, they have to get off here, they’re told to go.” Smalls asked.
“I don’t know,” replied the police chief.
“They don’t. The only reason they’re doing it is because we’re unionizing,” Smalls said.
Eventually, Smalls and the other organizers left to avoid arrest. On Twitter, Smalls described the incident as “wasted taxpayer dollars”.
Amazon has done similar actions before. in february Small and two employees were was arrested for trespassing after delivering trays of food to a Staten Island warehouse. At the time, the organizers’ pro bono attorney, Seth Goldstein, called the action “outrageous,” describing the arrests as union busting.
An Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company supports its employees’ federally protected right to organize. Smalls, however, is not an Amazon employee.
Amazon has a the story to get involved anti-union activity. Earlier this year, US prosecutors found that the company violated federal labor law to threaten, interrogate and monitor workers interested in unionization.