Amazon workers reject unionising at second Staten Island warehouse election

Following stunning victory against retail giant, Amazon Labor Union vows ‘fight has just begun’ after election defeat

Alex Woodward
New York
Monday 02 May 2022 21:04 BST

Related video: Bernie Sanders urges Biden to cut federal contracts with Amazon

A majority of Amazon workers voting to determine whether to form a union at another New York City warehouse have voted against unionising, following the upstart Amazon Labor Union’s stunning victory in a union election in April, the first ever within the company.

Workers at the LDJ5 facility in Staten Island voted 618 to 380 against forming a union, according to a vote count by the National Labor Relations Board on 2 May.

The votes represent 998 workers out of the more than 1,600 eligible voters at the facility.

“The organizing will continue at this facility and beyond. The fight has just begun,” Amazon Labor Union said following the vote.

The outcome follows massive, international momentum for the union following the successful election to unionise the larger JFK8 warehouse that sits next to the smaller LDJ5 facility on Staten Island.

The union effort has galvanised organised labor and workers across the US and attracted high-profile support from members of Congress and labor leaders, who rallied with Amazon workers and supporters outside the facility as the election was underway.

Both campaigns faced well-financed efforts by Amazon leadership and management to keep union activity out of the company, from so-called “captive audience” meetings, anti-union literature, posters and messages to workers to attempts to undermine or delegitimise union leaders – efforts that mirror the company’s anti-union campaign in Bessemer, Alabama, where a union vote failed last year.

“No matter the outcome of the election, workers are uniting for change at LDJ5, JFK8 [and] around the world,” Amazon Labor Union said earlier on Monday. “Mega-corporations continue to spend millions in union-busting [and] fear tactics [and] we continue to organize for a society not based on exploitation [and] greed.”

Amazon Labor Union has filed more than 40 complaints of unfair labor practices against Amazon, while the company is seeking to toss out the results of the JFK8 election.

The Independent has requested comment from Amazon.

LDJ5, in addition to having fewer employees than the JFK8 facility, has other unique challenges, according to orgaisers: it has only been open since late 2020 (JFK8 opened in 2018), many workers are working part time, and there are fewer organisers in the LDJ5 warehouse.

The union campaign ignited after Christian Smalls was fired in early 2020 for allegedly breaking the company’s safety guidelines after he staged a protest over what Mr Smalls and other Amazon workers have alleged are poor health protections against Covid-19.

With Derrick Palmer, Mr Smalls and other current and former Amazon workers have helped spread the word about the union effort, relying on social media, barbecues and connections with workers without traditional union support through established trade groups.

“Despite todays outcome I’m proud of the worker/organizers of LDJ5 they had a tougher challenge after our victory at JFK8,” he said on Twitter following the latest vote count. “Our leads should be extremely proud to have given their coworkers a right to join a Union. [Amazon Labor Union] will continue to organize and so should all of you ... Nothing changes we organize! do not be discouraged or sad be upset and talk to your coworkers.”

Union elections among workers at the world’s largest online retailer followed a wave of organized labor action followed historic gains among the nation’s wealthiest people and its corporate titans despite the public health crisis and its economic fallout. Filings for union elections increased nearly 60 per cent over the last year from the previous year, according to the federal labor board.

Workers at more than 200 corporate-owned Starbucks locations in the US have petitioned for union elections, and more than 40 thus far have voted to form a union, including flagship stores in its hometown of Seattle.

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