Amazon workers arrive with paperwork to unionize at the NLRB office in Brooklyn, New York, October 25, 2021.
Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters
Employees at an Amazon warehouse near Albany overwhelmingly rejected a unionization effort on Tuesday, delivering a blow to an upstart labor union seeking to organize workers at the retail giant.
The tally was 206 votes in favor of the union and 406 votes opposed. Officials said 949 workers at the ALB1 warehouse were eligible to vote on whether they should become part of the Amazon Labor Union. Four ballots were voided. The results of the election still need to be certified by the National Labor Relations Board.
The results mark the latest setback for the Amazon Labor Union, a grassroots organization of current and former Amazon employees, which had a historic win in April at the JFK8 warehouse on New York’s Staten Island. The group also lost a vote in May at a nearby warehouse on Staten Island.
Chris Smalls, president of ALU, said in a statement that the voting process “wasn’t free and fair,” suggesting the union may seek to challenge the election results. Lawyers for the ALU have already filed 27 unfair labor practice charges against the company with the National Labor Relations Board.
“It was a sham election where workers were subjected to intimidation and retaliation on a daily basis and even the workers who volunteered to be election observers were faced with threats of termination,” Smalls said.
Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel told CNBC in a statement: “We’re glad that our team in Albany was able to have their voices heard, and that they chose to keep the direct relationship with Amazon as we think that this is the best arrangement for both our employees and customers. “
We’re glad that our team in Albany was able to have their voices heard, and that they chose to keep the direct relationship with Amazon as we think that this is the best arrangement for both our employees and customers. We will continue to work directly with our teammates in Albany, as we do everywhere, to keep making Amazon better every day.
Workers at ALB1 hoped the union would help employees obtain higher wages. Amazon last month bumped up the starting wage at the facility to $ 17 an hour, up from $ 15.70 an hour, alongside pay increases for front-line workers across the country.
ALB1 organizers have also raised concerns about working conditions, saying the rapid pace of work has led to high injury rates, and caused employee burnout.
ALU’s victory at JFK8 was a watershed moment for the labor movement, establishing the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the US
But the union has yet to bargain a contract at JFK8, as it remains locked in a legal battle with Amazon, which has argued the results should be thrown out. An NLRB official recently recommended the company’s objections should be rejected. Amazon said it would appeal.
Amazon faces an upswing of labor organizing across the country. Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Southern California last week filed a union petition with the hopes of joining the ALU. Amazon workers at facilities in California, Illinois and Georgia recently held walkouts, in time for Amazon’s fall Prime Day discount event, to urge the company to respond to employee concerns around working conditions.