Labor organizer and president and co-founder of the Amazon Labor Union
you give up.”
Photo credit: Eric Kelly
About Chris Smalls
Chris Smalls is at the forefront of the growing American Labor movement. As an Amazon warehouse employee, he was shocked at their lax safety protocols during COVID, as clearly ill employees were encouraged to work during the beginning of the pandemic. After contacting local politicians, Amazon’s HR, and health officials, Smalls was fired on March 30th, 2020, the same day he and Derrick Palmer organized a walkout to protest Amazon’s complete lack of COVID precautions.
A chorus of politicians denounced Smalls’ dismissal, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Rep. Alexandria Cortez-Ocasio. Despite his limited financial resources and Amazon’s smear campaign, Smalls went on to organize the Amazon Labor Union. As the ALU’s president and founder, he spoke out against the systemic racism he had experienced at the company—for example, Smalls applied for promotion 49 times while an employee, but was never selected—and Amazon’s inhuman internal culture of surveillance. Through his tireless organization efforts, Smalls led his warehouse to a historic victory, voting to unionize by a significant margin. Smalls became the face of one of the most successful union votes in history.
Countless media outlets covered Smalls and his historic success, including the New York Times, The Daily Show, New York Magazine, and Fast Company. Fortune named Smalls a “40 under 40” honoree, and TIME magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of 2022 alongside Derrick Palmer.
Now, Chris Smalls travels across the country inspiring others to tap into the power of collective action. He especially enjoys talking to university audiences and students about how they can raise their voices for the common good, connect with their local communities, and organize for racial and economic justice.
Smalls’s forthcoming book, The Revolution is Here, is expected to publish in August 2024. When he’s not traveling he’s usually visiting local picket lines or local unions.
Taking the Power Back: Labor’s Upsurge and the Worker-Led Movement to Organize Amazon
Chris Smalls’s fight for a contract will change labor in America forever. He believes that Amazon’s first union was only the beginning of a new movement—and placing more value on workers will help society as a whole. In this talk, Chris Smalls connects with communities across the country as he shares the stories behind his historic win.
Using Your Voice for a Greater Movement: Organizing for Racial and Economic Justice
Chris Smalls’ knew his voice was meant for a greater purpose. As the leader of Amazon’s first union, he amplified systemic racism within the company, bringing to light discriminatory promotion practices, abuses of workers of color, and oppressive surveillance. Now, he brings his experience as a historic organizer to communities, associations, and schools to inspire audiences to uplift their voices for change, in powerful talks that embody action.Categories: Black History Month Speakers, Business + Management Speakers, College + University Speakers, Commencement + Convocation Speakers, Current + Social Issues Speakers, Diversity + Inclusion Speakers, Future of Work Speakers, Law and Ethics Speakers, Library + Community Reads Speakers, New Speakers, Social Justice Speakers
Media About Chris Smalls
- 212 572-2013
- Chris Smalls travels from New Jersey