Lever Time with David Sirota

On this week’s episode of Lever Time, producer Frank Cappello and reporter Amos Barshad are joined by union organizers Griffin Ritze and Fatou Souare, who are both involved in a current union drive at an Amazon warehouse in Kentucky. Griffin, an Amazon employee who was recently fired as alleged retaliation, and Fatou, a local community leader with the Kentucky African Women’s Association, speak to The Lever about the unique challenges of organizing a large, diverse workforce in one of Amazon’s largest locations — and what their efforts mean for the larger fight ahead against Amazon.

In 2022, workers at Amazon’s KCVG air hub kicked off their union drive, seeking increased pay, inclusionary policies for non-Native English speakers, and stronger workplace protections. Due to the size and diversity of KCVG’s workforce, local community groups have also gotten involved. In response, Amazon is apparently doing everything in their power to crush the union effort, including hiring union-busting law firms to hold “captive audience” meetings. 

In today’s interview, Frank and Amos speak with Griffin and Fatou about the unique challenges of organizing the Amazon hub, the different union-busting tactics the company employs, and how groups like the Kentucky African Women’s Association are working to educate and empower the community.

A transcript of this episode is available here.

BONUS: Last week’s bonus episode of Lever Time Premium, exclusively for The Lever’s supporting subscribers, featured David Sirota’s conversation with media strategist Jason Kint about how Facebook’s parent company Meta is trying to protect the money it makes from harvesting kids’ user data.

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What is Lever Time with David Sirota?

From LeverNews.com — Lever Time is the flagship podcast from the investigative news outlet The Lever. Hosted by award-winning journalist, Oscar-nominated writer, and Bernie Sanders' 2020 speechwriter David Sirota, Lever Time features exclusive reporting from The Lever’s newsroom, high-profile guest interviews, and expert analysis from the sharpest minds in media and politics.

[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Lever Time. I'm Lever producer Frank Capello filling in for David Sirota. On today's show, we will be speaking with two organizers currently involved in the Union Drive at Amazon's KCVG Air Hub in Kentucky, due to the size of the KCVG Air Hub, this Union Drive is one of the biggest at an Amazon warehouse to date. a roadmap for how various community groups and grassroots organizers can come together to support workers Through mutual solidarity.

bit. For our paid subscribers, we're always dropping bonus episodes into our Lever Premium Podcasts feed. If you want access to our premium content, head over to LeverNews.

com and click the subscribe button in the top right to become a supporting subscriber. This gives you access to the Lever Premium Podcasts feed, exclusive live [00:01:00] events, even more in depth reporting, and you will be directly supporting the investigative journalism that we do here at The Lever. with the two organizers currently involved in the Union Drive at Amazon's KCVG Air Hub in Kentucky.

Now, as it has been widely reported, working in an Amazon warehouse is one of the toughest and arduous jobs in a modern American workplace.

it has also been well documented how Amazon, one of the largest companies in the world,

uses its massive financial and legal power to

Crush union efforts at its warehouses.

This union drive at the KCPG air hub in Kentucky kicked off in late 2022.

, and since then organizers have focused their efforts on shop floor organizing and democratic rank and file structures. For example, even though the union has yet to file for an election with the National Labor Relations Board, workers are already establishing and voting on their union constitution, Which over 500 workers participated in creating. The Constitution includes clauses like labor leaders receiving only the average worker's wage and the membership having the right to vote on all [00:02:00] major decisions.

This is also a unique union drive due to the size and diverse communities that make up KCVG's workforce.

One of the union's key demands is translation rights, to ensure that workers for whom English is a second language are not discriminated against. Additionally, local community groups have gotten involved in the organizing effort, with an understanding that what benefits the workers benefits the entire community.

So for today's interview, myself and Lever reporter Amos Barshad were joined by union organizer Griffin Ritzy, an employee at the KCVG Airhub Who was recently fired by Amazon for what the union alleges is union busting retaliation.

We also spoke with Fatu Sawade, a founder of the Kentucky African Women's Association, who is not an Amazon employee, but has been heavily involved in educating and organizing workers for the union drive.

All right, we are here today with two of the organizers who have been involved in the Union Drive at Amazon's KCVG Air Hub in Kentucky. Before we get into the conversation, can you both just tell us your names and what your role is within the Union Drive?

My name is [00:03:00] Fatou Soare. I am part of the Kentucky African Women's Association, and I've been involved with the, Amazonians since last year, helping them develop the relation between them and the community, and especially the African immigrant that is northern Kentucky, Kentucky, Amazon, KC

yeah, Griffin Ritzy, uh, up until a few weeks ago, I was a tug driver at Amazon KCVG. And now I'm going to continue to stay in the fight, uh, fight for a union and third.

also with us today, we have The Lever's staff reporter, Amos Barshad. Amos, thank you for being here too.

Hey, great to be here.

All right, so Griffin, I want to start with you. So can you first tell us, because actually Amos and I both realized we didn't know what this was. Can you tell us first, what is the KCVG Airhub and how does it differ from a normal Amazon warehouse?

Yeah, Amazon KCBG is Amazon's global air hub for air freight [00:04:00] operations. So this is the center point for their air freight network. Uh, so right now that's about 40, 45 flights that come in and go out every 24 hours. Uh, you know, this services Amazon's next day and two day delivery. Um, and it's the central point in a massive network that's growing.

something like more than 14 air gateways where product comes in and out on planes. so yeah, myself and my coworkers, you know, roughly 4, 000 of us are responsible for handling air freight, uh, moving it in and out of the facility. And, uh, you know, half the workforce there works in a sortation building where, you know, there's air to ground, ground to air loaded on and off trucks, to deliver for Amazon.

Got it. And how long had you been working at the Airhub, and what were the conditions at the time in the warehouse that initially sparked this union drive?

Right, so I first started working at Amazon at a fulfillment center in the area back in [00:05:00] December 2020, got laid off during COVID, found a job at Amazon. And then, yeah, I transferred over to KCBG about 8 months, 9 months later, where, you know, this company is really consolidating its operation, uh, into these major points, KCBG being one of them.

And, yeah, it's been built up and developing for the last almost 3 years now. And, uh, the conditions are brutal. Uh, you know, I work on the ramp in all weather conditions. You know, my co workers are responsible for operating heavy machinery, cargo tugs, k freight loaders, you know, all these things that get the product, you know, from the company, to working people's hands.

And, um, you know, I've seen a lot of injuries on the job. handling 4, pound air freight cans, you know, crushing somebody's foot or somebody getting stuck behind a can inside the main deck of an airplane and getting crushed. Um, you know, it's Not uncommon to see the ambulance roll up [00:06:00] once a week or more and, uh, you know, inside the sort building, it's not much better, you know, conveyor belts tuned to high speeds workers being pushed, uh, you know, to, to, you know, hardly what they can deal with, especially during peak season, you know, when the facility, handled something like over a million packages a day, delivered to all points across the U.

S. East Coast, West Coast, Texas, um, and elsewhere.

Thank you for sharing all that with us. I know there's been a lot of reporting on the conditions at a lot of these Amazon warehouses, and it's really, it's tough to hear every time. So, now that the organization effort is underway, what are some of the union's key demands?

you know, early on, before this campaign began, uh, we started with a petition to get back our seasonal peak pay. So, you know, in 2021, when the facility first opened, we were paid during peak season an extra 2 an hour, you know, during the Christmas holiday season. And fast forward a year, in 2022, the company took that away from us, you know, and so a group of [00:07:00] myself and my coworkers, uh, started circulating a petition to bring back peak pay and make it a permanent cost of living raise.

The company's response was to announce, uh, what they considered a cost of living raise of, 50 cents at the low end and I think upwards of a dollar, depending on how long you've been there. And, uh, you know, that was a slap in the face after, you know, years of dealing with COVID, skyrocketing inflation, rents going up in the area, the highest rate in the country, you know, for the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky metro area.

And, you know, quickly, the conversation turned to, well. Yeah, peak pay would be nice, but if we want any kind of lasting change, uh, or improvements in the workplace, we need a union. so fast forward to March of last year, we launched a union drive at KCBG, Amazon's largest air hub in the world. Began collecting, uh, union cards and organizing the workplace around demands like 30 an hour, 180 hours of pay time off and job security.

What it means to have union representation on the job, [00:08:00] um, disciplinary hearings. soon after that, we took up a petition to fight for translation rights at KCBG. Amazon offers many translation services, even at other facilities in the region, but they hide behind these standards in aviation.

You know, this idea that English is the language of aviation. You know, there's certain controls on, you know, whether it's the pilots themselves or it's air traffic control operators about. Using English as a first language, uh, but they use that standard, to hide, behind a discriminatory practice where, Senegalese, French speaking, African immigrant workers are discriminated against and barred from employment at KCVG, know, that's how we met Fatou, who's been a real champion for immigrant rights in the area for a long time, um, to not only fight for these things that all workers need, but to take up issues of fighting discrimination and fighting for translation rights at KCVG.

Yeah. And that, that actually leads us to our next question. fatu, uh, could you tell us a little bit about, when you first, uh, started working [00:09:00] with the union effort, uh, and the Kentucky African women's association, how, how the group came to kind of join forces with the union effort.

so to do that, I'm going to talk about a little bit my background so you can know why it is very important for us to have the union in Amazon, for seven years I'm a recruiter for warehouse around Northern Kentucky. So I have a lot of African speaking language, to have job. Not only that, we were able to get a lot of french managers to some of these warehouse.

So they were able to help with the orders to understand what they were doing in the workplace. So after seven years, I was offered a better opportunity, a job in the hospital, but I continue to work with the African community, especially the new arrival to help them find housing jobs and everything.

So when the hub was open, we were very excited because, you know, we have a lot of French speaking [00:10:00] here that came in new and didn't have a job. So I keep doing the application. And as you know, the application for Amazon is long. So you sit all day doing three or four application. You take them to HR and they say they cannot hire them because they do not speak the language.

However, it is so not true that they don't hire French people. They hire whoever they want because it's some people who are there just speaking French. So I bring my person there and they say no. After like few time going to HR talking to them, they still say no. So I was driving back very furious. And then it was in the at the front of Amazon in the street, someone holding a sign off the union.

So I didn't know much about union. So I said, What is you guys about? And they were telling me that they are for 180 hours of time off 30 an hour [00:11:00] translation, you know, and all that show me all this petition that they were signed and I'm like, okay, I'm making work out behind us 100%.

So I've got to help them, you know. Five days. The big fight. So that's how I got involved and I went and start connecting them with the leadership because we all know each order. So the mosque, the churches around here, the african pastor, the african mosque.

We relate well connect to them with all of them and every each one of them came to some meeting and we create a WhatsApp group for just the immigrant leader to update them what is going on so they can take it out there because Amazon is making the immigrant people scared. You know, people who's like me who never know about union so you can take advantage of that and telling them, you know, you're going to lose your benefit.

If you have the union, you're going to do this, you know, so they are very scared about Amazon and [00:12:00] people like us that they know and trust are the only one that can push them to vote against what they are standing for.

And can you tell us a little bit more about the, um, community? the makeup of the community that, uh, that you guys are trying to unionize. Cause we noticed the, uh, the union website has translations in, uh, yeah, Somali, Arabic, French, Spanish. so we'd love to hear more about the, it sounds like a very unique and, uh, diverse, uh, community.

Uh, and, and I'm sure that comes with its own challenges to get everyone on the same page. So we'd love to hear more about it.

It is. It is a little bit challenging because when people hear about Africa, they just hear about Africa as a whole. But each country have their own culture. They have their own belief. That's why we were able to get the leader of each community, like the Congolese leader, the Malian leader, the Senegalese leader, you know, and then trying to get them.

And even when we do Everything you see in the website, we're doing more because we're doing video in different languages. So [00:13:00] we make video to make sure that everybody understand our voice and everybody have a voice.

So when you have the constitution voting, so I have, I take my time. I pick up phone and I can speak in one off to the person. Maybe who didn't speak French and ask them, you know, read it for them and translate it for them in my language so they can be able to be connected with it. But it is like challenging just because, like I say, everybody have their own culture and we have to get the people who have that.

particularly a culture to be able to reach out to them. most of the people in general, if it's like the older people that was here, like, maybe less, less than two years. Most of them know me because I work in the area and I work to help them the whole time. So they recognize the faith and they They have confidence on what I'm telling them, so it will help a lot for them to like, okay, let me sign.

Amazon is lying to me.

Right. Right. Yeah. [00:14:00] That you become a trusted. A trusted source, like a trusted voice for them. And I, I'd love to hear more about the idea of like, so say you're reaching out to someone that hasn't heard about a union before, is being introduced to all these ideas for the first time. You know, I assume there's some skepticism there.

so how's that process been when you take someone from, okay, let me introduce you to this idea of a union, to, okay, now this person wants to join the union. What's that like?

first of all, it was, it was okay until the union bus does come and start putting them in small group and, you know, kind of watch their mind because this is the people who pay their check monthly, weekly. So some of them come back to me and ask me when I explain deeper and tell them to come to union meeting.

They stay with me. Some of them are even scared to pick up the phone and talk to me anymore because they think if they just talk to me, I'm going to fire them.

you know, uh, big season is over. So Amazon fire a lot of people after big season. So people are very scared [00:15:00] because they thinking that Amazon is firing these people because they signed the cut at Amazon or something.

So it's a lot of work, but we are willing to do it because it's the right thing to do.

Absolutely, absolutely. And, uh, and one more, um, The, uh, the Union Constitution, can you tell me a little bit about the, the process of, uh, of putting that together and, uh, and I, I understand that there's something like 500 people had a, had a hand in that, um, so I'd love to hear more about that process.

I think, and it's a bit unique, I think, to this campaign, you know, it's not every day that the union drives launch where they draft out a constitution from the ground up. And I think, uh, yeah, to take on Amazon, it requires workers to have a real sense of leadership over the campaign. Um, and.

Union democracy. I mean, I think that's a big part of what we're doing here and what it takes to fight a company like Amazon, where, you know, they fly in dozens and dozens of union busters to hold captive audience meetings where they lie about the union. you could be paying 30 a day in dues [00:16:00] or 300 a day in dues.

Like who knows who's to say, and to give our coworkers a voice to actually weigh in on this process and say. What do we think the dues should be once a month? You know, overwhelmingly our coworkers voted by something like 85 percent to agree to 30 a month dues, you know, to start off and fight for a 30 an hour starting wage at KCBG in a contract.

And, uh, I think, yeah, opening up this process to as many workers as possible is necessary, you know, to combat Amazon's union busting lies. And, uh, you know, it kind of falls on deaf ears if half the room in a captive audience meeting You can say, wait, no, actually, I participated in drafting this constitution, and the dues are going to be this, and we have the right to recall elected leadership, and we have the right to override decisions, um, as the membership, as the highest decision making body in our union.

Uh, I think it's absolutely necessary, uh, to combat these lies, uh, that Amazon's [00:17:00] leading with.

So you both have already alluded to Amazon's union busting techniques at KCBG, you know, as I'm sure a lot of our listeners know Amazon's union busting techniques have been well documented over the years at, you know, warehouses across the country. So you both have all already mentioned the captive audience.

meetings. besides that, what has the union busting response felt like from your day to day operations when you're walking in the door to the captive audience meetings? yeah, can you just sort of paint a picture what it's what the responses felt like

Yeah, it's not only the captive audience meetings, you know, Amazon is taking a page out of Starbucks union busting playbook, where They're flying out managers from other facilities, much like they did at Starbucks the last couple of years to train them up on how to union bust. And, you know, the employee relations staff that they're recruiting into this company, um, you know, in the past, you know, this company's used a lot of outside consultants.

Now they're hiring, you know, some of the best union busters in [00:18:00] the game from Littler Mendelsohn, Ford Harrison, uh, Ogletree, other major consulting firms. So that they can walk into a room, they can walk onto the floor at the facility and say, Oh, I'm an Amazon employee, just like you. And, uh, you know, if we have this union, then they're going to get in the way of our, you know, friendly relationship that we currently have, where, you know, we, uh, ignore every request that you have for better conditions here and you go on your way.

and I think, yeah, that's where it's been a bit different. And it's, you know, it's not only the meetings, but dozens of these managers from other facilities, from corporate canvassing the workplace, you know, walking around. The ramp, you know, around the planes, around our ramp crews, embedding with the crews for a whole day, you know, trying to get to know them and build rapport, know, to, to try to feel out our support, um, you know, and try to corner people and intimidate them from joining the union, from getting involved in this campaign and, you know, that's always going to have an effect.

Right. But I think, you know, by establishing our independent constitution, by having clarity around what [00:19:00] we're fighting for 30 an hour and other demands, It's Then, um, yeah, we can keep our coworkers focused on what we're trying to win with the union contracts and beat back, uh, Amazon lies.

that union bus thing to get some of the immigrants. just make them like to think about behind the scenes. I'm like, if Amazon don't think the union is nothing. Why are they trying to stop it? you know?

These companies spend a lot of money to make sure that they don't have to spend money on their employees who actually, you know, do all of the work for them. Griffin, I want to zero in on, you know, why specifically we're talking today. You reached out letting us know that about three weeks ago you were fired from KCVG in what you allege is retaliation from Amazon due to your role and efforts as a union organizer.

So just for the record, can you tell us what was Amazon's justification for your firing and why do you believe that it was actually retaliation?

Right. So, uh, I [00:20:00] was given two reasons for being terminated. The first reason was simply asking to attend some of these anti union information sessions. you know, myself and a number of coworkers that are. You know, part of our organizing committee is involved in the union campaign. We're essentially barred from attending these closed door captive audience meetings.

Oh, so you wanted, you wanted to go to the captive audience meeting.

Uh, yeah, I did. I wanted to go. And, uh, I asked, I think, on five different occasions, which, you know, they documented in my termination papers. Um, you know, and in each case, you know, I saw a meeting was coming together, spent maybe three or four minutes just asking the manager if I could attend, when I would be invited to one, was given, a number of different answers, and then You know, a month and a half later, I was brought in to HR, my manager's office, and fired for simply asking to attend these meetings.

The 2nd reason that they gave was that, yeah, there was 1 shift back in December where it [00:21:00] came in a bit late and we didn't have any cargo tractors available. It's what I do every day as I drive the freight around the building. And, yeah, so I took the shuttle and I went to go work in a different section of the warehouse.

Very busy during peak season. People are constantly moving around and switching roles. I've done that probably a dozen times or more since I started working there two and a half years ago. And, uh, they cited that as the second reason as to why I was being fired. I think ideally this company, uh, you know, they want to fire somebody on the worst possible basis for the worker and the best possible basis for the company.

Um, I think it's a real show of desperation that, yeah, they explicitly fired me for simply trying to attend these captive audience meetings. the, yeah, the company is afraid. They know that we have enough cards to file for an election, uh, that we're strong, that we have the support of community leaders like Fatou and many others.

And we're willing to take on this company because we have the clarity and what it takes to actually strike them and bring them to the [00:22:00] bargaining table where they've refused, you know, famously, in New York at Staten Island to come to the bargaining table. And I think, um, yeah, they slept on us for a little bit too long, and they're trying to play catch up and 1.

Surefire way to put some fear in our co workers is to fire somebody that's been involved in the campaign for a long time now.

and I also assume that you're appealing the termination and did you file, also file a complaint with the NLRB?

That's right. I actually just found out this morning that Amazon denied me my internal appeal, which not a huge shock to me. You know, they delayed it for a few weeks and then I finally had the appeal the other day. We filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board, um, to have me reinstated, to push for a 10 J injunction, um, but yeah, I mean, ultimately, you know, what's necessary is to build this campaign and our union to be strong enough to be able to take action when, uh, pro union workers fired, you know, to be able to shut down the floor.

until they're reinstated. And, you know, we're not quite there yet, obviously. [00:23:00] Um, but we have to use every tool at our disposal to fight back. And, um, I would just say too, on my firing, it's not, it's not about me. It's not really about any one individual or anybody tied with the campaign. It's to say that, yeah, anyone who steps out that supports this union.

As a target on their back, you know, I mean, there are 99 other ways to get fired at Amazon. Right? And, you know, I think, uh, just as many, many more people are fired daily, weekly, monthly, um, because there's no job security, you know, minor safety infraction. know, somebody is working in a different role one day.

Yeah, it's firing season at Amazon and, um, you know, it's just one more reason they could fire you. But, you know, until we have real job security with the union contracts, you know, nobody's safe at Amazon. There's no job security.

And I assume Griffin that you will have to find another job or possibly have already done that and so you're going to be continuing your. Work with the union while at the same time, job hunting or otherwise, you know, [00:24:00] finding a way to, yeah, pay your pay your bills, which is, of course, I assume, extremely stressful.

and so, yeah, so it's not, it's not a, it's not a simple thing to continue your work with the union, I'm sure, as you're, you know, in the wake of being fired.

Yeah, that's right. I mean, I, you know, um, fortunately, uh, workers strike back, a worker led organization, you know, base like 12 different cities around the country donated a two week stipend, you know, to keep me in the fight in the short term. And, you know, I'm stretching that out as far as I can, obviously right now.

Um, cause yeah, I don't plan on going anywhere. You know, I think, um, you know, I'm just moving to another side of the campaign now and we're going to fight to get me reinstated, um, and to show this company that we're not going to put up with their union busting. so yeah, I don't plan on going anywhere.

I'm just going to stay in the fight as long as I can.

Um, and you mentioned also, the, the, uh, Amazon labor union, the, the, that originally was founded with the, uh, the organizing of a union in the Staten Island warehouse, um, in 2022. Um, can you tell us a little bit about the decision to, um, to [00:25:00] organize your workplace, with ALU as opposed to, um, yeah, uh, organization like the Teamsters, which, uh, I believe represents, the DHL workers, um, right in, right in the same neighborhood.

yeah, can you tell us a little bit about that choice?

you know, myself and my coworkers were. Yeah, just tremendously inspired by the example that you set in New York, you know, in 2022 where, yeah, they won the 1st union election at Amazon and U. S. history. And, you know, I think crucial to that was that they raised the demand for a 30 an hour starting, which, you know, at a time where covid was only barely beginning to recede, workers had put up with a lot died on the job, you know, from.

Yeah, this virus and everything that comes with it. And, um, you know, I think them setting that example set a higher bar for the labor movement that, you know, Amazon's been in business for, you know, over 30 years now, and it's been largely unorganized around the world. And, uh, for, for those workers to have the courage and the [00:26:00] strength to fight this company, one of the largest companies in the world and win, um, was a huge inspiration, you know, and it's, it's.

Very positive. I think that, you know, the teamsters at Amazon, other major unions are now starting to rally around this demand for 30 an hour. It really, I think, calls into relief the tremendous wealth that these corporations and billionaires have built in the last, you know, several decades. And, you know, unfortunately also points to the steep decline that the labor movement's been in for many years now.

Um, so yeah, I mean, ultimately, you know, we want to join the largest and strongest possible union for Amazon workers. You know, one of the key questions on our union constitution survey was whether or not, you know, we should, if we decide to choose to affiliate with a larger union, you know, whether that's the AFL CIO, Teamsters, um, you know, or anyone else, um, I think that's something where, you know, I think to fight this campaign for recognition at KCVG is one step, but we [00:27:00] don't want to isolate ourselves from the rest of the movement.

We want to join with the ranks of other Amazon workers. Workers in the logistics industry and workers all over, um, to fight for a union.

And how's their relationship been with, ALU? How have they, how have they helped, um, locally?

Yeah. So we've had a number of the key organizers from, uh, Staten Island and their OCs out, um, to work alongside us, you know, to share their experiences. you know, this is, this is tough and, you know, nobody in the labor movements exactly cracked the code on how to organize at Amazon. Uh, so we've not only worked with them, but, you know, we've linked up with the Teamsters in the last few months.

I want to build strong ties in this industry. Obviously, like you mentioned with, uh, DHL workers voting overwhelmingly to start a union, across the street at one of DHL's main super hubs, um, and fighting for a contract and winning it with a strike. I mean, that's, you know, I'd say probably a quarter of my coworkers at Amazon used to work at DHL, you know, or have family [00:28:00] friends that still work there.

You can see the ramp, you know, where they work, you know, from where we work, um, on the ramp at KCBG. So, yeah, we want to link up, with the rest of the labor movement. We've won a lot of support, you know, from the AFL CIO, both nationally and locally. You know, we've raised tens of thousands of dollars from union locals.

Near and far, um, iron workers, local 44 in Cincinnati. Um, just, yeah, many others UFC, uh, W, um, in the area. yeah, it's, uh, it's, it's essential. I think, you know, we always say on the labor movement that an injury to one is an injury to all. And, we've been, uh, really trying to be a champion for uniting the labor movement, um, both locally and further out with this campaign.

It's really cool to hear how the cross union solidarity can, you know, materially help, you know, you guys out at KCVG and all the stuff that you're, you know, focusing on in your efforts. So for our final question, I'll ask both of you, what are the next steps for the union? And what are you anticipating after those next [00:29:00] steps, the response from Amazon will be like?

Right now we are, putting out our constitution. They already put what they want to be in the constitution. Right now we write it down, draft it out and make sure that they are. So the next couple of weeks, that's what we'll be working to get the, Amazon worker to sign and let us know if they agree to that or we need to go to the drawing board again.

And then after that, we will force Amazon to recognize us. So that's what the next step will be.

Yeah, and I would say, uh, you know, last year we really proved that we're a union by fighting around these demands, you know, raising the idea of a 30 starting wage, translation rights, job security, 180 hours of paid time off. And, uh, you know, right now we're taking the step as Fatou was saying, to draft our constitution, put it to our coworkers to ratify it, and then prepare for the next stage in this fight, which is an NLRB election and [00:30:00] workplace action, building up the strike to fight for recognition.

you know, it's not enough to win, you know, a democratic union election in the U. S. you got to drag these companies to the bargaining table. And it was the same case of D. H. L. Across the street where the company dragged its feet, you know, in the courts, um, and the negotiating table for months and months and months.

And it wasn't until workers went on strike. know, on the ramp, that they actually made any progress on the contract, um, and we're going to face the same kind of stalling, illegal union busting, and refusal of Amazon's obligation, you know, under the NLRA to actually bargain in good faith, that just goes back to, you know, this power imbalance in society where, you know, working people build the wealth.

That these companies hoard, um, and keep to themselves, uh, you know, and disregard our wellbeing, our needs, um, you know, our basic needs to have a decent wage at a company like Amazon.

Well, I gotta say, In the face of a company like Amazon [00:31:00] and, the legal and financial power that they are able to muster, you know, against people trying to, form a union, I gotta say this story is extremely inspiring, at least to me, to hear, especially about how workers and community Can come together for the mutual benefit of, of the entire community.

And I think that's such an important, uh, aspect of your story and one I'm really glad we got to explore because, you know, it, it really does, you know, take a village. so, uh, Griffin Fatu, where can our audience find more information about KCVG's Union Drive?

Yeah. Um, you can find us on all social media platforms, Amazon, labor union, KCBG. Um, you can also go to our website at, uh, unionizeamazonkcbg. org. And yeah, we encourage. Amazon workers, any supporters, you know, in the labor movement, any of your listeners to donate 30, uh, it's a fight for 30 an hour, um, at KCBG.

So you can go unionize, Amazon, KCBG. [00:32:00] org slash donate, make the contribution, you know, keep us in this fight to take on this company.

Great, and we'll be sure to link to that in the episode description in the podcast player. Griffin, Fatou, thank you so much for your time today, and best of luck with the rest of the organization effort.

Thank you

so much, Frank. Thank you so much for

Yeah. Thanks for having us.

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Capitalism, and of course check out all of the incredible reporting our team has been doing over at levernews. com. Until next time, I'm Frank Cappello, rock the boat. The Lever Time Podcast is a production of the Lever and the Lever Podcast Network. It's hosted by David Sirota. Our producer is me, Frank Capello, with help from [00:33:00] Lever producer, Jared Jacangmayor.