Militant Journalism

Labor Day rally demands recognition of Amazon and Starbucks unions

On Sept. 5, hundreds of workers and organizers gathered in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City for a Labor Day March for Recognition rally. Amazon Labor Union and Starbucks Workers United organized the action to demand recognition of their respective unions and show support for labor struggles across the city. They were joined in solidarity by workers from Google’s Alphabet Workers’ Union, the Trader Joe’s Union, the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, and members from the Party for Socialism and Liberation. 

The action began at Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s penthouse in lower Manhattan, marched up Fifth Avenue to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s penthouse and finally ended with a rally in Times Square. 

Starbucks workers fired in retaliation for union organizing

Outside Schultz’s house, organizers from SWU discussed the challenges they faced in their struggle to unionize stores across the country. Starbucks has been firing many of its workers in retaliation for filing complaints and organizing their workplaces. 

SWU organizer Laila Dalton was the first employee to be fired from Starbucks for filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. “It’s been very sad watching for the last six months people getting fired one by one … it’s over a hundred partners who have lost their jobs, who have lost everything,” she said at the rally.

Dalton added that despite losing their jobs, it was inspiring to see many of these workers still giving their all in the fight for a union.

Some noted that corporations like Starbucks terminating pro-union employees was a sign of the ruling class’s fear of working class solidarity and organization. 

“When workers, all of us, we have an action together, they know how scary that is,” explained Megan DiMotta of SWU, who has been with the company for 12 years. “Howard needs to stop targeting his workers because we are the people who made this company.”

‘The working class has revolution on their minds!’

Taking the streets and marching under the hot summer sun to Bezos’s hundred-million dollar penthouse, workers and organizers energetically chanted in support of New York City’s growing labor movement and to demand the recognition of the ALU. It has been over 150 days since the workers of Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island won their historic union vote, but the company continues to deny their clear victory and has raised 25 objections to the election. On Sept. 1, the NLRB recommended that the Regional Director dismiss all of these objections “in their entirety.” 

Workers from Amazon’s BHM1 warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, which became famous for being the first large Amazon facility to hold a union vote, joined the march to support ALU’s fight for recognition. Workers’ experiences in Bessemer and in Staten Island have shown that Amazon will go to great lengths to union bust, including reprimanding and firing employees for organizing, holding captive audience meetings with anti-union consultants, and breaking labor laws to taint elections, emphasizing the importance of solidarity in this struggle. 

Outside Bezos’s penthouse, Isaiah Thomas, who has been active in the struggle to get workers at his Bessemer Amazon warehouse represented by the RWDSU, noted that the tech giant drives down standards of working conditions everywhere and pioneers technologies that will harm workers in all industries. Because of this, workers must unite as a class to confront the capitalist system that allows for corporations like Amazon to exist in the first place—a system based on the exploitation of workers so that Schultz, Bezos, and the rest of the ruling class can reap billions in profits while the working class struggles to afford their basic needs. 

“Brothers and sisters, I am here not only to show solidarity, but that the working class has revolution on their minds!” exclaimed Thomas. “And it’s time for the ruling class to start praying to God, because here we go!” 

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