Glenn Spencer Glenn Spencer
Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


January 24, 2024


In 2022, the so-called Amazon Labor Union (ALU) was a media darling. Numerous news articles showcased Chris Smalls, the union’s president, who was feted at the White House and Congressional hearings.

Yet now, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, the ALU is “fighting to survive.” Nearly two years after claiming victory in an election at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, the results of which are still being disputed, the union is reportedly in turmoil, is pretty much “broke,” according to its vice president, and has made no progress in negotiating a contract.  In addition, it has lost several additional elections at Amazon facilities. Making matters more tumultuous, workers in the ALU sued the union in 2023.

In some ways, this should not be a surprise. Several unions, including the ALU, have repeatedly pitched their services to Amazon workers without success. In Bessemer, Alabama, the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union lost two elections at the same facility.  In California, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters declared that it had unionized Amazon workers, only for the public to discover that what they had done was organize employees at a totally separate company that was not doing business with Amazon.

The struggles facing these various unions fit in with numbers reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on January 23. BLS found that union density fell once again in 2023 to just 10 percent of the overall workforce. In the private sector, union density remained stuck at 6 percent. This despite three years of the Biden administration pursuing a “whole of government” approach to promoting labor unions.

The just-announced drop in union density continues an ongoing trend that shows no sign of ending. A company with a failing business model that people aren’t buying will change what it’s doing, or it won’t survive. It’s a lesson unions don’t seem to have learned, and the decline of the ALU appears to be yet another example.

About the authors

Glenn Spencer

Glenn Spencer

Spencer oversees the Chamber’s work on immigration, retirement security, traditional labor relations, human trafficking, wage hour and worker safety issues, EEOC matters, and state labor and employment law.

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