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Mar 24, 2023

Interviewer: MATTHEW BERKMAN. In the U.S., the institutionalization of the labor movement, with established unions following procedures set out by the NLRB through professional staffs and legal teams, has gone hand-in-hand with its decline. In the face of laws stacked against it, the movement’s growth often comes from upstarts that find new ways to harness the collective power of workers. In recent years, the most spectacular example of this has been the against-the-odds success of the Amazon Labor Union, whose co-founder CHRIS SMALLS worked tirelessly to avoid the pitfalls of other organizing efforts at Amazon. In is discussion with political scientist Matthew Berkman, Smalls describes the working conditions at Amazon, the challenges of organizing its workers, the failures of existing unions to overcome those challenges, the strategies he and his colleagues devised to win a union vote at the JFK8 Warehouse in Staten Island, and the continuing fight for a contract at Amazon – and for the future of American work.