Staten Island Amazon workers vote ‘union yes’
New York, NY – On April 1 workers at the Amazon warehouse JFK8 in Staten Island New York voted to join the newly formed Amazon Labor Union (ALU).
Amazon is one of the largest companies in the United States and through the COVID-19 pandemic it has ballooned in size and importance to the economy as more people have transitioned to online shopping. In recent years multiple unions had unsuccessfully attempted to unionize in several high profile campaigns.
More than 8000 Amazon employees at the Staten Island warehouse will become members of the ALU after the successful vote.
Amazon vows to contest the results of the union election. In previous efforts by unions to organize Amazon workers the company employed union busting tactics including attempts to bribe employees to quit their jobs and not be eligible to vote.
It is notable that major unions have failed to organize Amazon while the ALU, which is a new independent union, used a worker-led approach and succeeded. Since the vote, workers who were part of the organizing drive say that one of the main tactics the boss used at Amazon was to try to third-party the union, making it sound like the union would be something that came between the workers and the boss.
Workers organized directly on the shop floor and reminded each other that the union is them as coworkers coming together to be stronger and fight the boss. Because the effort was led by shop floor workers taking the boss on in a fighting spirit, the bosses’ attempts to paint the union as an outside third party failed.
The NLRB counted votes a day earlier in Bessemer, Alabama for a second union election which was ordered by the NLRB after Amazon was found to have broken the law in its union busting efforts in a first vote where the workers voted not to form a union.
The second vote fell short of winning by a narrow 875 for to 993 against. The Retail Warehouse Department Store Union, which made the first and second organizing attempt in Bessemer says that the election results will go to the National Labor Relations Board to reach its final verdict.
In NLRB union election procedures either side is allowed to challenge votes that they feel were not eligible or that they have reason to believe were not valid. Those challenged ballots are then reviewed by the NLRB to determine if they were valid and eligible or not and are counted if they are. While challenges do sometimes change outcomes of votes, the 118-vote margin would be a wide spread to overcome through challenges.
Recent months in the U.S. have seen an uptick in workers forming unions, sometimes in industries that have remained nonunion through previous efforts, including successful union votes at ten Starbucks store locations in the U.S. since November 2021. Unions and workers across the country and the world have celebrated the results of the election broadly as a change to the longstanding pattern of unions failing to organize Amazon workers.