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There are far fewer workers eligible to vote in this latest election versus last month’s — about 1,500 compared with 8,300 at the neighboring Staten Island facility. There are fewer organizers, too — roughly 10 compared with roughly 30.
“It’s a much more personal, aggressive fight over here,” said Connor Spence, an Amazon employee who works as the union’s vice president of membership.
Amazon workers vote ‘no’
Amazon workers eventually voted against unionizing a second warehouse in New York City, a ballot count on Monday showed, representing a defeat for labor organizers just weeks after they celebrated their first U.S. win at the nation’s second-largest private employer per Reuters.
Employees at the online retailer’s sortation center in the borough of Staten Island, known as LDJ5, voted 618 to 380 against joining the ALU, according to a tally by the NLRB. Turnout was about 61%.
Some employees at LDJ5, directly across the street from JFK8, took a different view. They told Reuters their jobs were part-time and required shorter shifts than at the neighboring warehouse, and they doubted a union could deliver on its demand for $30 hourly wages.
Amazon recycles old anti-union propaganda.
Meanwhile, Amazon continued holding mandatory meetings to persuade its workers to reject the union effort, posting anti-union flyers and launching a website urging workers to “vote NO.”
Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement that it is up to employees whether or not they want to join a union. But “as a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees,” Nantel said. “Our focus remains on working directly with our team to continue making Amazon a great place to work.”
If it were so great, perhaps the workers wouldn’t need a union. Nevertheless, Amazon employees are not alone. According to ABC News, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently spoke at a rally in support of organizers spearheading the union drive.
Last Tuesday, Sanders sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to sign an executive order that cuts off Amazon’s contracts with the government until the retailer stops what Sanders calls its “illegal anti-union activity.” Organizers believe such a move would fulfill the president’s campaign promise to “ensure federal contracts only go to employers who sign neutrality agreements committing not to run anti-union campaigns.”
Amazon workers want a better work environment and better pay to match.
ABC News reports that after their first Staten Island win, Amazon Labor Union (ALU) organizers re-strategized their efforts to the smaller warehouse and reiterated their vision to workers — longer breaks, better job protection, and a higher hourly wage of $30, up from the minimum of just over $18 currently offered on Staten Island.
Last month, Amazon filed objections over the successful union drive, arguing that the vote was tainted by organizers and by the board’s regional office in Brooklyn that oversaw the election. The company says it wants a redo election, but pro-union experts believe it’s an effort to delay contract negotiations and potentially blunt some of the organizing momentum.
ALU is getting legislative support.
In New York, two state lawmakers introduced a bill to regulate warehouse productivity quotas, aiming to curtail workplace injuries at facilities operated by Amazon and other companies. The bill’s sponsors said they were motivated by ALU’s impending contract negotiations with the company, which has been criticized for its high warehouse injury rates.
Separately, the ALU, along with American Federation of Teachers and New York State United Teachers, is calling on New York Attorney General Letitia James to investigate Amazon’s eligibility for tax credits under a state program designed to draw business to New York. In a letter sent to James, Seth Goldstein, a union attorney who offers pro-bono legal help to the ALU, contends Amazon has committed “flagrant unfair labor practices” during the union drives that violated the worker protector provisions of the program.