Amazon appears to defeat union effort in Alabama again, but union leads in vote at N.Y. facility

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An Amazon fulfillment center. (GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Amazon faced off against unionization efforts at company warehouse facilities in New York and Alabama on Thursday, with vote counts showing the tech giant facing a potentially historic organized labor outcome.

At Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island, N.Y., vote totals on Thursday showed 1,518 “yes” votes to join the Amazon Labor Union and 1,154 “no” votes. Counting will resume Friday at 10 a.m. EST.

Meanwhile, Amazon appeared to be beating back another effort to unionize at a warehouse facility in Bessemer, Ala., as employees voted on whether or not to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

There were 993 votes against joining the union and 875 votes in favor. But 416 ballots were challenged, and because that number is large enough to impact the result, the National Labor Relations Board will hold a hearing to decide if any of the challenged ballots should be opened and counted.

“Every vote must be counted,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum, said in an emailed statement. “Workers at Amazon endured a needlessly long and aggressive fight to unionize their workplace, with Amazon doing everything it could to spread misinformation and deceit.”

The vote in Alabama is the second effort to unionize at the Bessemer facility, where 6,153 workers were eligible to vote. There were 2,375 ballots returned by mail, including 59 voided ballots.

Unionization was struck down by a wide margin last April, with 1,798 voting against joining the RWDSU and 738 voting for it at the warehouse facility known as BHM1.

The call for a second election came after the NLRB said it found Amazon “interfered with the employees’ exercise of a free and reasoned choice by creating the appearance of irregularity in the election procedure.” The NLRB said a mailbox was installed outside Amazon’s main entrance and employees were improperly polled about their support for a union during mandatory meetings.

See also  Amazon pressured Alabama workers and union vote should be redone, labor investigator recommends

In August, a NLRB hearing officer ruled that Amazon stepped outside allowable guidelines and improperly pressured Bessemer warehouse workers against unionizing the warehouse. That officer recommended in a report that the election should be redone.

The NLRB said that either Amazon or RWDSU could file objections to the conditions of the newest election, and that the union has already filed an unfair labor practice charge.

In New York, the union effort is led by Chris Smalls, a warehouse worker who was fired after organizing a walkout over work conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We don’t want to get overconfident and think that we’ve already won,” Smalls told The Associated Press.

Among other things, Staten Island workers are seeking longer breaks, paid time off for injured employees and an hourly wage of $30, up from a minimum of just over $18 per hour offered by the company, AP reported.

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