December 9, 2022

Amazon workers union loses election at warehouse near Albany

Workers at an Amazon facility near Albany, NY, have voted decisively against being represented by the upstart Amazon labor union, blocking efforts to expand unionization across the e-commerce giant.

Workers at the warehouse voted 206 for union representation and 406 against, according to tallies released Tuesday by the National Labor Relations Board. Nearly 950 workers are eligible to vote.

Vote of the Amazon Labor Union A second failed election From a Amazing success In April, workers at Amazon in Staten Island voted to form the first union of the company’s warehouse workers in the United States.

“We’re glad our team in Albany was able to hear their voices, and we’re glad they chose a direct relationship with Amazon,” Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nandell said in a statement.

In recent months, the Amazon labor union has debated whether to focus on winning a contract at the Staten Island facility, known as JFK8, or expand its reach to other warehouses across the country through additional elections.

The union’s president, Christian Smalls, is “very supportive of creating voting opportunities for as many workers as possible,” said Casio Mendoza, a JFK8 worker and the union’s director of communications. At the same time, the union has pressed workers on Staten Island to demonstrate progress It has recently beefed up its internal structure After months of little public activity there.

Tuesday’s decision from the ALB1 warehouse in Castleton-on-Hudson, NY, 10 miles south of Albany, did not stop the union from reaching beyond JFK8.

“We are committed to continuing and expanding our campaign for fair treatment for all Amazon workers,” said Mr. Smalls said in a statement. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

About 80 percent of the union budget, more than half a million dollars, is focused on Staten Island, union officials said. The rest is earmarked for expansion efforts, including ALB1 and a facility in Southern California that filed for election last week.

Mr. Smalls said the election was “not free and fair”. Before the votes were counted on Tuesday, the union raised concerns that Amazon improperly interfered in the vote, which would lay the groundwork for a legal challenge to the result.

The company said last week that labor board staff were investigating 27 allegations of unfair labor practices filed by the union against Amazon before the vote began. The union has registered additional concerns.

One of the allegations is that a worker was suspended after complaining that one of Amazon’s anti-union consultants had harassed him during voting hours, according to Redtu Singla, an attorney representing the union.

“During the election they are trying to get votes,” said Mr. Mendoza said the consultant was wearing work clothes and an Amazon suit.

Another employee, who was not directly involved in the union campaign and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said on the first day of voting that he saw what appeared to be “fake employees” wearing Amazon clothing but not knowing the basics of the jobs. cast doubt on the union’s ability to negotiate a contract.

Matthew Boddy, a former NLRB attorney now at the University of Minnesota Law School, says that while one-on-one conversations with workers during voting periods are permissible, misrepresenting company agents and seeking to defraud employees amounts to interference. Election.

Amazon declined to comment on the allegations.

The ALB1 warehouse handles large items such as outdoor appliances and televisions. A recent report Labor Advocacy Committee The facility was found to have the highest number of serious injuries of any Amazon warehouse in New York for which the team was able to obtain government data.

Amazon has emphasized its minimum starting wages and benefits, and has said its safety record has improved over other retailers in recent years. In a message to workers, Amazon questioned the union’s experience and said workers could be worse off if they vote for a union.

In September, in interviews outside the warehouse, some Amazon workers said they supported the union because wages were so low, especially in light of how physically taxing the work can be. The company recently raised its starting base wage at the warehouse from $15.70 to $17.

“I think we need a union – we need higher wages,” said warehouse worker Masood Abdullah. She said she made about $22 an hour at an industrial bakery, but quit because the hours didn’t fit her parenting responsibilities.

He and other workers said they felt Amazon’s ethics policies were sometimes arbitrary. “It’s like there’s no one to represent you,” said Mr. Abdullah said. “They can get you in and out of anything.”

Other workers said they didn’t believe a union was necessary because Amazon already offered guaranteed wages and benefits like health care and subsidies for college tuition. Even some union supporters conceded that the company often treats workers well.

Some workers expressed doubt that the Amazon labor union would follow through on promises such as improving wages. “I don’t feel like I’ve seen any evidence,” said warehouse worker Jacob Carpenter, adding that he plans to vote no.

Amazon is fighting a successful union vote in Staten Island. After a lengthy investigation into the company’s objections to the election, a Labor Board official Recently approved Victory of the trade union. A regional official has yet to weigh in, but Amazon said it intends to appeal to workers at JFK8. The union recently pushed a petition to pressure Amazon to negotiate a contract.