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Amazon Labor Union members vote overwhelmingly in favor of an affiliation with the Teamsters

Business

Amazon Labor Union members vote overwhelmingly in favor of an affiliation with the Teamsters
Business

Business

Amazon Labor Union members vote overwhelmingly in favor of an affiliation with the Teamsters

2024-06-19 05:17 Last Updated At:05:20

New York City warehouse workers who are part of the Amazon Labor Union overwhelmingly voted to align themselves with the Teamsters as they try to get a contract from the online retailer.

The ALU members voted 98.3% in favor of the affiliation, which will give them access to additional resources in their effort to bring Amazon to the bargaining table, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said Tuesday.

“Together, with hard work, courage, and conviction, the Teamsters and ALU will fight fearlessly to ensure Amazon workers secure the good jobs and safe working conditions they deserve in a union contract,” Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said in a statement.

Amazon, which has disputed the 2022 election in which the ALU won the right to represent workers at a Staten Island warehouse, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Now that the labor group's members have approved the affiliation deal, the ALU will essentially join the Teamsters as an “autonomous” local union with the same rights and duties as a standard chapter, according to a copy of the agreement that was seen by The Associated Press.

The approximately 5,500 Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island will be represented by a newly chartered ALU-International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 1. It will have jurisdiction for Amazon warehouse workers across New York’s five boroughs, and is also expected to help with the Teamsters' broader organizing efforts at other Amazon facilities outside its jurisdiction.

The agreement says at least three representatives of the local union will participate in “executive planning and strategy discussions” with the Teamsters division that focuses on organizing Amazon workers.

ALU President Chris Smalls said he was proud of members for “choosing a path to victory.”

“We’re now stronger than ever before,” Smalls said.

John Logan, a labor history professor at San Francisco State University, said teaming up with an established union was like a “lifeline” for the independent ALU because the group is “going nowhere at the moment.”

“Doing it independently is just so difficult when you’re up against a company like (Amazon), which is big, wealthy and is determined to defeat the union,” Logan said.

The Amazon Labor Union's 2022 victory in Staten Island remains its only election win to date. Yet the group is the only labor organization to pull off the feat at an Amazon warehouse in the U.S., in part due to opposition from the company and the sheer size of many of its facilities.

But despite the ALU's initial success, it hasn’t been able to secure a contract for more than two years as Amazon continues to appeal the vote with the National Labor Relation Board.

At the same time, the group has encountered other setbacks, including two election losses at other Amazon warehouses and internal strife about its organizing strategy.

Some organizers left to form the ALU Democratic Reform Caucus, a dissident group that sued the ALU last year to force an election for new leadership. That election is expected to be held in July outside of the warehouse that voted to unionize, Arthur Schwartz, an attorney who represents the dissident group, said earlier this month.

Connor Spence, the Caucus' candidate for president, indicated he was supportive of the affiliation with the Teamsters, saying in a statement that it “sends a powerful reminder to Amazon that we’re not giving up in our yearslong campaign for respect, better wages, and safe jobs.”

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, created in 1903, has 1.3 million members in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

O’Brien, a fiery leader, was elected in 2021 on a platform that emphasized greater organizing at Amazon. He has also indicated that the union's wins elsewhere, like the collective bargaining agreement it secured at UPS last year, would help its fight to organize Amazon workers.

The Teamsters have been pushing to organize Amazon’s driving workforce, though that effort hasn’t led to any major wins recognized by the company. In April, Amazon workers at a large company Air Hub in Kentucky decided to affiliate with the union amid their own organizing effort.

San Francisco State's Logan said the affiliation with the ALU also was a smart move by the Teamsters, which needs to think of new ways to organize at Amazon. He thinks winning union elections at the company will require grassroots campaigns akin to the one that led to the ALU's victory instead of the top-down, traditional campaigns many unions employ.

FILE - Jason Anthony, an Amazon worker and union organizer, keeps track of the ongoing count of votes to unionize an Amazon warehouse outside an office of the National Labor Relations Board in New York, on May 2, 2022. Amazon's union workers are aligning themselves with the Teamsters, overwhelmingly voting in favor of an affiliation. The union members voted 98.3% in favor of the affiliation, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

FILE - Jason Anthony, an Amazon worker and union organizer, keeps track of the ongoing count of votes to unionize an Amazon warehouse outside an office of the National Labor Relations Board in New York, on May 2, 2022. Amazon's union workers are aligning themselves with the Teamsters, overwhelmingly voting in favor of an affiliation. The union members voted 98.3% in favor of the affiliation, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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EPA awards $4.3 billion to fund projects in 30 states to reduce climate pollution

2024-07-22 21:44 Last Updated At:21:50

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is awarding $4.3 billion in grants to fund projects in 30 states to reduce climate pollution. The money will go to 25 projects targeting greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, electric power, commercial and residential buildings, industry, agriculture and waste and materials management.

The grants are paid for by the 2022 climate law approved by congressional Democrats. The law, officially known as the Inflation Reduction Act, includes nearly $400 billion in spending and tax credits to accelerate the expansion of clean energy such as wind and solar power, speeding the nation's transition away from the oil, coal and natural gas that largely cause climate change.

The latest round of grants includes $396 million to Pennsylvania to reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions from cement, asphalt and other material. EPA Administrator Michael Regan will join Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro in Pittsburgh on Monday to announce grant recipients in his state, a political battleground in the 2024 election, and across the nation.

Senior EPA leaders also will join Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of California on Monday to announce nearly $500 million for transportation and freight decarbonization at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The grants will provide incentives for electric charging equipment, zero-emission freight vehicles and conversion of cargo handling equipment to lower emissions.

“President Biden understands that America needs a strong EPA,'' Regan told reporters Friday, noting the Democratic administration “has made the largest climate investment in history, providing billions of dollars to state, local and tribal governments to tackle climate change with the urgency it demands.''

The funds, to be delivered this fall, "will help implement community-driven solutions that reduce air pollution, advance environmental justice and help accelerate America’s clean energy transition,'' Regan said.

Shapiro, a Democrat who has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick now that Biden has stepped down from the presidential race, said his administration has taken action to address climate change while continuing to create energy jobs and expand the economy.

The grant being announced Monday “is one of the largest federal grants Pennsylvania has ever received,'' Shapiro said in a statement ahead of Monday's announcement. The state will work with RISE PA, a new initiative aimed at reducing industrial sector emissions in Pennsylvania.

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy will receive $307 million to boost “climate-smart” agriculture and reduce agricultural waste from livestock, officials said. The grant also will fund projects to improve energy efficiency in commercial and industrial facilities and low-income households, as well as deploy solar panels and electrify irrigation wells.

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird of Lincoln, Nebraska, said the grant will enhance energy efficiency of homes and commercial buildings in her city. A city analysis indicates that investing in energy efficiency and electrification could reduce Lincoln’s emissions by 77% by 2050, Baird said on a White House call Friday.

The grant also will ensure Lincoln residents have "equitable access to the clean energy transition'' by providing assistance to low-income residents, she said.

Other grants include nearly $250 million to boost electric vehicle infrastructure along Interstate 95 from Maryland to Connecticut. The project will provide charging infrastructure for commercial zero-emission vehicles and provide technical assistance for workforce development along the I-95 corridor, one of the most heavily traveled in the nation.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine will get a total of $450 million to accelerate adoption of cold-climate heat pumps and water heaters.

Michigan will get $129 million to accelerate the siting, zoning and permitting of renewable energy. The grants will help Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, another potential vice presidential choice, achieve a goal of 60% renewable energy by 2035.

Follow the AP's coverage of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at https://apnews.com/hub/us-environmental-protection-agency.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference overlooking the Susquehanna River from a balcony at the offices of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference overlooking the Susquehanna River from a balcony at the offices of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

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