Cleveland Labor turns out for Amazon union leader

Amazon Labor Union President Christian Smalls spoke to over 200 Cleveland unionists and allies June 9. The North Shore Labor Federation organized the solidarity meeting, held at United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1250’s hall. Cleveland was stop number three on the ALU’s “Hot Labor Summer” tour.

Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls with United Auto Workers members, Cleveland, June 9. WW Photo: Martha Grevatt

The meeting was in a question-and-answer format, with Federation Executive Secretary Dan O’Malley asking questions and Smalls providing thoughtful answers. Audience questions followed.

What was the secret to a new, independent union beating a Goliath corporation like Amazon?

“Number one for us was building and earning trust, and that’s something that Amazon fails at miserably,” Smalls said. “We were doing things Amazon would never do. And the biggest thing was love. We showed that we cared, that we loved one another.”

UAW Local 1250 President Wilma Thomas and American Federation of Musicians President and North Shore Labor Federation Treasurer Leonard DiCosimo spoke, along with fired Amazon union organizer Joey Desatnik.

Cleveland labor activists give a standing ovation to Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls, June 9. WW Photo: Martha Grevatt

Desatnik began promoting unionism to his co-workers at the CLE2 Amazon warehouse in March. After signing up over 200 potential union supporters in May, Amazon fired him for an alleged “security infraction.” The National Labor Relations Board is investigating Desatnik’s complaint. Desatnik spoke on how inspired he was by the Amazon Labor Union’s April 1 victory.

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