Amazon workers in New York voted against forming a union and dealt another blow to a grassroots group of workers trying to organize several of the tech giant’s US warehouses.
A total of 406 workers at the Amazon facility near Albany voted against unionizing, and 206 workers voted against unionizing, according to a preliminary calculation by the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday. There were some tough and invalid votes, but not a large enough number to affect the final results.
Workers at the ALB1 facility were trying to organize with the Amazon Labor Union, the same grassroots group of workers who successfully formed the first union at a US Amazon facility in Staten Island, New York, earlier this year. The Albany vote was the ALU’s third attempt to syndicate an Amazon warehouse after it failed to secure a union win at a smaller Amazon facility, also located on Staten Island. It also comes because Amazon doesn’t officially recognize the Staten Island union or come to the bargaining table.
Following Tuesday’s vote count, ALU Chairman Chris Smalls said the working group was “full of mixed feelings” about the results, adding, “This will not be the end of the ALU at ALB1.”
Smalls also accused Amazon of retaliating against union organizers in ALB1, which he previously denied, describing the vote as a “fake election”.
Meanwhile, Amazon welcomed the election results in a statement Tuesday.
Kelly Nantel said, “We’re delighted that our team in Albany was able to make their voices heard and that they chose to maintain a direct relationship with Amazon because we think this is the best arrangement for both our employees and our customers.” An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. We will continue to work directly with our colleagues in Albany, as we do everywhere else, to make Amazon better every day.”
Amazon organizing efforts come amid a broader reawakening of the US labor movement during the pandemic, with some early union victories at companies like Apple and Starbucks. In particular, Smalls has emerged as a face of this labor movement since the victory in Staten Island, appearing in the White House and posing with celebrities at the Time 100 summit.
Smalls previously told CNN Business that since the ALU’s first victory, it has generated a surge of interest from Amazon workers at other facilities. In addition to the ALB1 facility, an Amazon fulfillment center in Moreno Valley, California, has also recently filed a petition for union selection with the ALU.
But ahead of last week’s Albany vote, Smalls underestimated the consequences of the result, suggesting that the organizing activity itself was a victory. “The expansion of the ALU is certainly historical in its own right,” he told CNN earlier. “I don’t think there’s anything to risk.”
Smalls echoed that sentiment in a tweet Tuesday before the vote count began. “I’m proud of ALB1’s brave staff, regardless of today’s consequences,” he tweeted, adding: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!”
Labor-organisers at Amazon’s Albany facility say they were inspired to form a union after seeing the success of the Staten Island ALU. Some workers in Albany said they were motivated to organize after seeing their co-workers get injured on the job. A report from the National Employment Law Project found that the ALB1 facility had the highest “most serious injury” rates of any Amazon facility in the state.
Previously an Amazon spokesperson He told CNN Business that Amazon is ramping up hiring to meet demand from Covid-19, and like other companies in the industry, we’ve seen an increase in recordable injuries during this time as we train large numbers of new employees from 2020 to 2021. The spokesperson added that the company has invested billions of dollars in new operational security measures.