11.8 C
London
Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Amazon workers in NYC vote to unionise

Must read

Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York, voted to unionise on Friday, marking the first successful US organising effort in the retail giant’s history.

Warehouse workers cast 2,654 votes — or about 55% — in favour of a union, giving the fledgling Amazon Labor Union enough support to pull off a victory.

According to the National Labor Relations Board, which is overseeing the process, 2,131 workers — or 45% — rejected the union bid.

The 67 ballots that were challenged by either Amazon or the ALU were not enough to sway the outcome. Federal labour officials said the results of the count will not be verified until they process any objections — due by April 8 — that both parties may file.

Chris Smalls, a fired Amazon employee who has been leading the ALU in its fight on Staten Island, emerged from the NLRB building in Brooklyn on Friday with other union organisers, pumping their fists and jumping, chanting “ALU”.

“I hope that everybody’s paying attention now because a lot of people doubted us,” he said.

Mr Smalls hopes the success in New York will embolden workers at other facilities to launch their own organising campaigns. Even his group will soon shift their attention to a neighbouring Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, where a separate union election is scheduled to be held in late April.

Amazon posted a statement on its company website on Friday saying that it was evaluating its options following the election.

“We’re disappointed with the outcome of the election in Staten Island because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees,” the post said.

“We’re evaluating our options, including filing objections based on the inappropriate and undue influence by the NLRB that we and others (including the National Retail Federation and US Chamber of Commerce) witnessed in this election.”

The company did not elaborate but it signalled it might challenge the election based on a lawsuit filed in March by the NLRB, which sought to force Amazon to reinstate a fired employee who was involved in the union drive.

NLRB spokesperson Kayla Blado responded to Amazon’s statement by noting that the independent agency has been authorised by Congress to enforce the National Labour Relations Act.

“All NLRB enforcement actions against Amazon have been consistent with that Congressional mandate,” she said.

The successful union effort on Staten Island stood in contrast to the one launched in Bessemer, Alabama by the more established Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

Workers at an Amazon warehouse there appeared to have rejected a union bid but outstanding challenged ballots could change the outcome. The votes were 993-to-875 against the union. A hearing to review 416 challenged ballots is expected to begin in the next few days.

Amazon has long been considered a top prize for the labour movement given the company’s massive size and impact. The results in Staten Island reverberated all the way to the White House.

“The president was glad to see workers ensure their voices are heard with respect to important workplace decisions,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at Friday’s briefing about the vote.

“He believes firmly that every worker in every state must have a free and fair choice to join a union and the right to bargain collectively with their employer.”

- Advertisement -

More articles

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

- Advertisement -

Latest article

%d bloggers like this: