In April of this year, more than 2,600 workers at a Staten Island warehouse voted to join Amazon's first U.S. union.

It was only the beginning of a long uphill climb. Amazon objected to the National Labor Relations Board after the union won the election at JFK8.

We had to organize the best environment for our mental health. Chris Smalls, co-founding and interim president of the Amazon Labor Union, said they would play music, give out food, and give out weed to change the culture of the building.

Smalls was fired from JFK8 by Amazon in March 2020 after leading a walk out to pressure the company to improve its safety protocols. He was warned multiple times for violating social distancing guidelines. Amazon's general counsel called Smalls "not smart or articulate" in an internal memo.

Smalls said that the moment when he was fired motivated him to keep going.

Smalls and other organizers of the grassroots ALU fought back against Amazon during public testimony. The hearings came to a close on Monday and the National Labor Relations Board hasn't made a decision.

Dozens of Amazon workers rallied at a different warehouse in Albany, New York, last Sunday in an attempt to unionize. There has been a flurry of organizing that has swept other major U.S. companies.

Chris Smalls and Derrick Palmer at the temporary headquarters of the Amazon Labor Union in Staten Island, New York, on June 15, 2022.

CNBC sat down with Smalls and Palmer to find out what would happen if the union is upheld

The real work is about to start. We need to get this company to come to the table to negotiate.

The large, powerful unions that have historically succeeded at big companies and collected dues from hundreds of thousands of workers are not the same as the ALU. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union has been trying to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Alabama. The union objected to the election loss.

There were a few flaws in the game plan of the RWDSU. It's hard to keep the spirits up if you don't have organizers. It's difficult to counter what Amazon is doing.

If the National Labor Relations Board rules in favor of the union, a committee of ALU representatives and employees will negotiate with Amazon managers until an agreement is reached. It takes a long time to reach a first contract.

Employers often try to delay the process to make it more difficult. The co-author of The Future We Need: organizing for a better Democracy in the 21st Century said that she has been involved in campaigns where a first contract process could take multiple years before you land it.

The ALU wants a minimum wage of $30. Amazon says it pays an average of $18 and a minimum of $15. Walmart has an hourly minimum of $12, while the federal minimum is $7. Health coverage on day one is included in Amazon's benefits package. Some of the credit should go to the organizers.

Amazon management came to that on their own. We decided to increase wages. It took workers in their workplace to organize.

Amazon employees have the option of joining a union, the company said in a statement. They have all the time. Unions are not the best solution for our employees. We are focused on working with our team to make Amazon a great place to work.

We were given a tour of EWR9 a warehouse in Carteret, New Jersey, rather than CNBC being allowed inside JFK8 for this story. A worker died during the Prime Day rush. The death is being inspected by the OSHA.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking into working conditions at Amazon warehouses in three other states.

The entrance to Amazon’s EWR9 warehouse in Carteret, New Jersey, is shown on June 16, 2022. An Amazon worker died at EWR9 during the annual Prime Day rush on July 13, 2022.

Workers say they have strict limits on how much time off they can take, known as TOT, because of the long hours of work. It can take a long time to get to the bathroom at a football field. JFK8 workers want more transparency about how they are tracked and disciplined.

You walk into work and they say that they have been following this for a long time. The TOT was assembled by them. That is it. There is no plead my case. It's all done. They walk you out the door.

According to Amazon, 0.4% of employees were fired for being unable to perform their jobs in 2011. According to leaked internal research, Amazon has a turnover rate of 159%, which is nearly triple that of the transportation and warehouse sector. Amazon said it would deplete the available labor supply in the U.S.

In the first six months of fiscal 2022, the National Labor Relations Board saw a big surge in the number of union filings, as a recent CNBC survey found that more than half of U.S. workers support increased unionization in their own workplace. Four decades of stagnant wages, a pandemic that has brought record profits for companies, and a pro-union administration have led to an increase in organizing.

Smalls, Starbucks organizers and others were invited to the White House to meet the president and vice president. Critics say workers have power even if they don't unionize.

If you don't like your job, there's more than one million vacancies out there. Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a former chief economist for the US Department of Labor.

Union membership remains at a multi-decade low despite surveys showing high support. The U.S. union membership increased to 10.3% in 2011. It was down from over 20% in 1983 and over 30% in 1954.

We want to make sure that what we're doing here is lasting forever, not just a moment, because we know we're a long way from our end goal.

The father of three has traveled the country holding rallies in support of other Amazon warehouses that are trying to unionize The ALU tried to unionize a smaller warehouse across the street from JFK8.

Smalls stated that he is talking to the entire country. Every day that list gets bigger.

Derrick Palmer, co-founder of the Amazon Labor Union, stands outside the National Labor Relations Board New York regional office after workers filed a petition requesting an election to form a union in Brooklyn on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021.