Staten Island, N.Y., Amazon Workers Vote to Unionize

Company narrowly leads in revote at Bessemer, Ala., warehouse

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. April 1, 2022

​Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, N.Y., voted on April 1 to unionize, a first at one of the company's U.S. facilities, while the company led by a narrow margin in a revote at a Bessemer, Ala., warehouse, a vote that remains too close to call due to challenged ballots. We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Large Margin of Victory in Staten Island

Workers at the Staten Island warehouse known as JFK8 voted by a 2,654 to 2,131 margin to be represented by the Amazon Labor Union. The amount of challenged ballots, 66, isn't enough to change the results. The union will attempt to unionize another Staten Island warehouse when workers at the neighboring LDJ5 facility vote next month. Better workplace safety is a key focus of the unionization drive.

(The Hill)

Other Union Demands

The union has called for "more reasonable" productivity rates in Amazon's warehouse. The union also supports higher wages, more paid breaks and more vacation. The election result still needs to be formally certified by the National Labor Relations Board.


Long Battle

The Amazon Labor Union has tried to organize Amazon workers in New York for nearly two years, filing a petition to hold an election at two facilities on Staten Island in October 2021. That request later was withdrawn. The union refiled in December 2021, focusing first on JFK8, a warehouse that was the site of several worker protests during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The union is not affiliated with a national union. It is the project of Christian Smalls, who was fired from the Staten Island site after organizing a walkout.

(The Verge)

Revote at Alabama Amazon Warehouse Was Extremely Close

In Bessemer, Ala., a second union election resulted in 993 "no" votes to 875 "yes" votes but more than 400 contested ballots remain. According to the National Labor Relations Board, there will be a hearing within a few weeks to decide if any of the challenged ballots will be opened and counted.

Last year, Amazon won the first election in Bessemer over the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) by a margin of more than 2 to 1. "Our employees have always had the choice of whether or not to join a union, and they overwhelmingly chose not to join the RWDSU," an Amazon spokeswoman said last year when a second election was ordered. "It's disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that those votes shouldn't count."

This statement was issued following an NLRB regional director's conclusion that Amazon "gave a strong impression that it controlled the [election] process" by arranging for the installation of a Postal Service collection box at the warehouse. The box was surrounded by a tent that appeared to be in view of Amazon's surveillance cameras. Amazon said the box was intended to make it easier for employees to vote and that it did not have access to the ballots workers deposited in it.

(NPR), (The Washington Post) and (SHRM Online)

Amazon's Response to Union Organizing Criticized

Union leaders have characterized Amazon as engaging in union-busting tactics in opposing the unionization drive in Alabama. But legal experts say Amazon has acted much the same as any other company resisting unionization.

Jim Gray of Jim Gray Consultants in Charleston, S.C., said, " 'Union busting' is a disingenuous—and somewhat outdated—term used to label any attempt to oppose union organizing as nefarious dirty tricks." All must be reminded that employees have a right to support or oppose unionization, he said. "Hopefully for any representation election, voters will be making an informed decision based on facts presented by both sides."

(SHRM Online)

Impact of Votes

The strength shown by unions in Staten Island and Bessemer may mean that Amazon will face years of labor pressure from unions targeting the company. As a string of union victories at Starbucks has shown, wins at one location can provide encouragement at others.

(The New York Times)



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