Union – Hot Docs 2024

Union Hot Docs 2024

Union – Hot Docs 2024

Runtime: 01:40
A group of current and former Amazon workers in New York City’s Staten Island challenges one of the world’s largest companies in a unionization battle.

Table of Contents

Current and former Amazon employees try to unionize at a Staton Island fulfillment centre in . Chris Smalls is a former employee of Amazon's JFK-8 FullFilment Centre on Staton Island, who is the founder and president of the proposed Amazon Labour Union. Positioning himself at a tent by the bus stop, he tries to acquire the 30% support needed for a vote. However, with a 150% employee turnover and union-busting efforts by Amazon, this proves to be an extremely difficult task.

Union Synopsis

Union is a documentary directed by Stephen Maing and Brett Story about the efforts of current and former employees at an Amazon fulfillment centre to unionize. Without the support of any of the major unions, the Amazon Labour Union has an uphill battle to become established. This includes fear-mongering from within the fulfillment centre about employees having to pay union dues, as well as disagreements within the ALU membership, which develops into a lack of faith in Chris Smalls' leadership.

My Thoughts on Union

44 years ago, Sally Field won her first Oscar for playing the titular role in 1979's Norma Rae, a film based on the 1973 story of union activist Crystal Lee Sutton. While labour unions have become generally accepted five decades later, Union illuminates that there is still much push-back against them, particularly a grassroots campaign as seen in this film. One element of Union I wish was built upon further was the abrupt change in attitude of one of the early ALU members, who rebels against Chris Smalls' leadership and begins campaigning for a major union like the Teamsters to come in. That said, Union is still a solid document of this modern-day example of a movement that began decades ago.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.