The NYPD on Wednesday arrested three Amazon union organizers at a Staten Island warehouse.
One organizer, former Amazon employee Chris Smalls, had come to the warehouse break room to distribute food.
An Amazon spokesperson said Smalls had “repeatedly violated.”
The New York Police Department on Wednesday arrested three union organizers at Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island.
Among those arrested was Chris Smalls, a former laborer and president of the Amazon Labor Union. The ALU successfully petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for a union election at JFK8 last week. The election must take place between March 25 and March 30.
Smalls told Reuters he came to the warehouse to give food to workers in the break room.
Derrick Palmer, an organizer and ALU employee who witnessed the arrests, told Vice that an Amazon CEO said they were calling the police after organizers brought in grilled chicken and pasta. to workers in the break room.
“I think it started as a scare tactic that went completely off the rails,” Connor Spence, another ALU organizer and employee, told Bloomberg.
An Amazon spokesperson told Reuters and Bloomberg that Amazon called the police because Smalls “repeatedly encroached” on JFK8.
“Smalls – who is not employed by Amazon – has repeatedly trespassed despite multiple warnings. Today, when officers asked Mr. Smalls to leave, he instead chose to escalate the situation and the police made their own decision on how to respond,” spokeswoman Kelly Nantel told Bloomberg.
Nantel told Bloomberg that the company “did not call the police about the employees.”
“Upon arrival, officers encountered an employee of the location who stated that there was an unauthorized 33-year-old male on the premises who was refusing to leave. Officers at the location also attempted to ask the “individual to leave multiple times. All attempts were denied and the individual was taken into custody,” the NYPD told Insider in a statement.
“During the initial arrest, two other individuals unlawfully intervened and were also taken into custody without further incident,” the NYPD added. He identified the individuals as Amazon workers Brett Daniels and Jason Anthony.
The NYPD told Insider Smalls he was charged with trespassing, resisting arrest and obstructing government administration.
Daniels and Anthony have been charged with obstructing government administration, the NYPD told Insider.
Smalls was released later Wednesday, Tweeter at 9:28 p.m. EST: “I’m free ‼️ and I keep unionizing @amazon.”
Smalls told Reuters shortly after 10 p.m. he was returning to the warehouse.
“I’ll bring more food for the night shift,” he said.
Amazon was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Insider.
Insider previously reported that Smalls and Daniels were approached by police in November and told to tear down a tent they had set up near the warehouse. Daniels was handcuffed and held in a cell for almost two hours.
Amazon is also facing a union election at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Union (RWDSU) filed three unfair labor practice charges against Amazon on Tuesday, claiming it interfered in the election.
Bessemer’s election is a repeat of an election held in March and April of last year. Workers voted against forming a union, but the NLRB ordered it reappointed after finding Amazon had illegally interfered.
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