The Biden administration has recently made proposals to strengthen unions–one suggestion includes limiting “barriers to union organizers being able to talk with employees on federal property about the benefits of organizing a union.” However, there’s the issue of what can happen on private property. Amazon has taken a firm anti-union stance and continues that streak with a new development. According to Business Insider, the NYPD arrested three union organizers at Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse on Staten Island.
This is not the first time police have been called on this particular warehouse. Insider also reported an incident involving a small open-sided tent pitched across the street of the warehouse in November. Police ordered that the tent be taken down and one organizer was handcuffed and temporarily held in a jail cell.
Amazon representatives came outside and told workers they were calling the police because Smalls, a former Amazon warehouse employee and the leader of the union drive, was trespassing on the property.
“I think it started off as a scare tactic that completely went off the rails,” Connor Spence, another ALU organizer, and employee, told Bloomberg.
Derrick Palmer, a union organizer, stated the arrests came after the food was given in the break room.
“We were just giving out free grilled chicken and pasta to all the workers in the break room,” said Derrick Palmer, an Amazon Labor Union organizer and employee who witnessed the arrests, said. “The [arrests came] right after they were done. The general manager came out and said they were calling the cops.”
One of the three people arrested was Chris Smalls, former employee and president of the Amazon Labor Union based in Staten Island. Smalls was subject to a smear campaign in a leaked memo by an Amazon executive. Smalls was charged with trespassing, resisting arrest, and obstructing governmental administration. Daniels and Anthony were charged with obstructing governmental administration, as told to Insider.
Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel stated that Amazon called the police on Smalls for trespassing, not the other two workers.
“Smalls — who is not employed by Amazon — has repeatedly trespassed despite multiple warnings. Today, when police officers asked Mr. Smalls to leave, he instead chose to escalate the situation and the police made their own decision on how to respond,” spokesperson Kelly Nantel told Bloomberg.