8 April, 2022

Amazon workers unionize! How to train workers to amplify demands with a common script.

icon organizing,unions,workers
Cliff Smalls organizes workers at Amazon Warehouse in New York.

How can the magic of great organizers be bottled to train others to explain their demands better?

Messages are amplified when repeated many times by many people. This works best when supporters use the same talking points. How can busy workers working different shifts in different locations learn to explain their demands clearly and practice saying them? How can organizers with little time, money or staffing quickly train hundreds of workers to amplify their demands? Adjust the talking points as the campaign progresses? Alert workers of protests and other calls to action?

This blog explains how to amplify your message through supporters using shared talking points and a free app. The blog uses Christian Smalls' explanation of what led him to organize Amazon workers purely as an example.

  • How to prepare key talking points
  • Download from YouTube interview
  • How to package and share talking points
  • Help other practice delivering a consistent message
  • How to alert workers of protests and other calls to action

Prepare talking points

Record a voice memo on your phone to get a transcript rather than writing the points. This makes your message more natural and persuasive. Or get a transcript from a YouTube video by:

  • Go to YouTube and open the video.
  • Click on the "More actions" button (3 horizontal dots) located next to the Share button.
  • Click "Open transcript"
  • Copy and save the transcript

Share talking points with the BigStage Teleprompter

Paste the talking points into the BigStage Teleprompter and share it with other workers as a link. This lets them practice delivering the points as the points scroll on their laptop or phone. They can also use the teleprompter to help them while presenting on a ZOOM call. You can modify the talking points as the campaign progresses and even have multiple scripts to address different issues.

How to train workers on key talking points when explaining their demands.
Share this teleprompter and script freely with this link

Using the teleprompter app to organize

You are connected with your supporters through the teleprompter app. Add details of rallies and calls to action in the teleprompter script. Others see your message immediately when they click on the script URL. Remove your alerts from the script when the event is over.

The revolution is here

‘The revolution is here’: Chris Smalls’ union win sparks a movement at other Amazon warehouses. Staff at more than 50 locations have contacted the organizers of last week’s historic vote establishing Amazon’s first-ever union, expressing interest in setting up unions of their own. Chris Smalls, who helped coordinate the triumphant campaign at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York. In a win that shocked labor organizers and observers, Smalls and his co-organizer Derrick Palmers succeeded where many other attempts had failed, winning a staff-wide vote to establish the union by 2,654 to 2,131.

The union is a first for Amazon, which is the second largest employer in the US and fought hard to prevent the result. The company launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to stop their efforts, which began in March 2020 when Smalls led a walkout at a Staten Island warehouse over pandemic working conditions." - The Guardian

Explaining workers' demands

"Christian Smalls, who works at Amazon's facility in Staten Island, NY, discusses in 2020 why he and others are staging a walkout to demand the building be closed due to what they say is the company's mishandling of the coronavirus crisis. Amazon warehouse workers on New York’s Staten Island plan to strike Monday to call attention to what they called a lack of protections for employees who continue to come to work amid the coronavirus outbreak. Nearly 100 workers at the facility, known as JFK8, plan to participate in the work stoppage, planned for noon ET. The employees will walk out Monday morning and “cease all operations” until their demands are heard by site leadership, said Chris Smalls, a management assistant at JFK8 and a lead organizer of the strike." - CNBC

Interview excerpts shared as talking points

"I'm being the voice of the people that are afraid to speak up. I'm taking a stance against a company. I'm standing up with those who cannot speak for themselves what causes walkout pretty much started a few weeks ago when I brought to the attention of the company that people were being sick in my department daily. I witnessed people have various symptoms. Dizziness. Vomiting.

I tried to escalate this to my senior team my HR reps and they pretty much shut me down they saying you know we have the unpaid option which doesn't really help us and we're trying to make ends meet. Bring money into our family we can't afford to take off work just because we don't feel safe at work.

It's not fair to us. I was in the building with the entire company. We don't know how long this guy had the virus. All we know is that somebody tested positive and my employees felt unsafe from that moment forward. The building should have been shut down and sanitized. That's all we were asking for."

TakeAway: Amplify your message by training others to stick to the talking points and practicing their delivery.


Image credit: Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP. Chris Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union, helped co-ordinate unionization at Amazon’s Staten Island, New York, warehouse. 

Smalls organizes Amazon workers in NY to form a union
Amazon workers in NY unionize for better working conditions
Tech companies exploit workers - Amazon, Facebook, Starbucks, Apple

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