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The man who beat Amazon says he's just getting started

Leader of NYC Amazon workers' union
Leader of Amazon workers' union talks about NYC success 07:03

After becoming the first of the online retailer's U.S. workers to vote in favor of forming a union, Amazon employees in New York aren't resting on their laurels. 

"We already have interests in other buildings," Christian Smalls, who spearheaded the fledgling Amazon Labor Union's (ALU) battle against the $1.7 trillion company, told CBS News, in outlining what the group is planning next. "In the last 48 hours, I've definitely been contacted by workers from all over the country that want to start their own Amazon labor union. We're going to absolutely help them."'

Smalls, who is interim president of the ALU, formed the group last year after Amazon fired him in March 2020 following his efforts to organize protests over Amazon's COVID-19 protocols. He said the ALU wants to take its fight to any Amazon facility where workers show an interest in organizing. 

Union organizer Christian Smalls (foreground) celebrates with Amazon workers following the April 1, 2022, vote for the unionization of the Amazon Staten Island warehouse in New York. Andrea Renault/AFP via Getty Images

Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama last week cast their ballots for a second time on whether to unionize. The outcome of that vote is still unknown, pending a final tally of votes.

The ALU's list of demands include higher pay, more promotions and better working conditions. The union is asking Amazon to raise associates' pay by 7.5% to match the soaring rate of inflation; reinstate 20-minute breaks and provide a shuttle for workers. 

The group's victory in Staten Island is expected to reverberate across the country as labor activists have long fought to unionize workers at Amazon, the country's second-largest private employer behind Walmart. An Amazon spokesperson told CBS News the company is disappointed in the outcome of the vote and may challenge it.

Amazon workers on Staten Island vote to unionize 00:21

Before being fired two years ago, Smalls worked as a processing assistant for Amazon on Staten Island. In making the case for higher pay and better working conditions, he noted the physical strain of toiling at one of the company's facilities, given their massive size.

"You're doing 10 to 12 hours of calisthenics — not even including your commute, which could be two and a half or three hours depending on where you live in New York City," he said. 

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