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for Vox Media: Amazon fired Chris Smalls. Now the new union leader is one of its biggest problems.
josé a. alvarado jr.
Jul 19, 2022
Location: Staten Island
A year ago, Chris Smalls couldn’t get politicians to return his calls.

But on a muggy morning in late April, two of the biggest names in politics — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)  and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — were making a special trip to Staten Island, New York to visit with the 33-year-old former Amazon warehouse process assistant, father-of-three, and leader of a resurgent labor movement sweeping the country.

Smalls and his former colleagues, organizing under the banner of the newly formed Amazon Labor Union, or ALU, surprised the world in early April by doing what many thought was impossible: leading the first successful US union campaign at Amazon, a tech giant that has long viewed worker organizing as an existential threat to its business, and done virtually everything in its enormous power to stop it.

Photographed for Vox, with words by Shirin Ghaffary.
Amazon fired Chris Smalls. Now the new union leader is one of its biggest problems.
What’s next for the face of America’s new labor movement.


José A. Alvarado Jr. is a visual storyteller devoted to documenting cultural and social issues, as well as human interest stories in the US and Puerto Rico.
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