Amazon workers in Albany vote against unionization

Amazon workers arrive with paperwork to unionize at the NLRB office in Brooklyn, New York, on October 25, 2021.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Employees in a company Amazon A warehouse near Albany overwhelmingly rejected an effort to unionize on Tuesday, dealing a blow to a nascent labor union seeking to organize workers at the retail giant.

There were 206 votes in favor of numerical unity and 406 against. Officials said the 949 workers at the ALB1 warehouse had the right to vote on whether to become part of the Amazon Labor Union. Four votes were disallowed. Election results still need to be approved 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, that won a historic victory at the JFK8 warehouse on New York’s Staten Island in April. The group also lost votes at a nearby warehouse on Staten Island in May.

ALU chairman Chris Smalls said the voting process was “not free and fair”, suggesting that the union could challenge the election results. ALU’s lawyers have already filed 27 unfair business practices charges against the company with the National Labor Relations Board.

“It was a bogus election, where workers were subjected to daily intimidation and retaliation, and even workers who volunteered to be election watchers faced threats of dismissal,” Smalls said. said.

In a statement to CNBC, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said: “We are delighted that our team in Albany has made their voices heard and that they have chosen to maintain a direct relationship with Amazon, as we think this is the best arrangement for both our employees and our customers.”

We are glad that our team in Albany was able to make their voices heard and that they have chosen to maintain a direct relationship with Amazon as we think this is the best arrangement for both our employees and our customers. We will continue to work directly with our colleagues in Albany, as we do everywhere else, to make Amazon better every day.

Workers at ALB1 hoped the union would help workers earn higher wages. Last month, Amazon increased the starting wage at the facility from $15.70 an hour to $17 an hour, alongside wage increases for front-line workers in the country.

ALB1 organizers also expressed concerns about working conditions, saying that the fast pace of work leads to high injury rates and employee burnout.

ALU’s victory at JFK8 was a turning point for the labor movement and established the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the US.

But the union has yet to negotiate a contract at JFK8 as it is locked in a legal battle with Amazon, which argues the results should be cancelled. An NLRB official recently recommended that the company’s appeals should be dismissed. Amazon said it would object.

Amazon is facing a surge in worker organizing across the country. Last week, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Southern California filed a union petition in hopes of joining the ALU. Amazon employees at facilities in California, Illinois, and Georgia recently went on strike at the time of Amazon’s fall Prime Day sale event to encourage the company to respond to employee working conditions concerns.

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