Amazon defeats drive to unionize second New York facility

Amazon workers at a facility in Staten Island voted not to join an upstart union weeks after the group won a major victory at a warehouse across the street.

By Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc. workers at a facility in New York voted not to join an upstart union only weeks after the group won a resounding victory at a warehouse across the street.

The election at the LDJ5 sorting center in Staten Island wasn’t close, with the Amazon Labor Union garnering just 345 yes votes to 550 nos as of 2:23 p.m. local time. On a Zoom broadcast of the count, there appeared to be just a few dozen ballots left to tally.

The defeat is a setback for the ALU, which was looking to increase its bargaining power by repeating the success of the previous vote at the JFK8 fulfillment center.

Still, the first victory helped ALU founder Christian Smalls raise money and win support from powerful politicians, including Senator Bernie Sanders, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden.

Sanders last week sent a letter to Biden urging him to cancel federal contracts with companies that violate U.S. labor laws and has scheduled a hearing on the matter this week. While Biden is unlikely to cancel Amazon’s federal contracts, his administration is working to make it easier for workers to join unions.

Nelson Lichtenstein, who directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said the loss probably wouldn’t derail the ALU.

“They’ll try it again and again and again,” he said in an interview before the votes were tallied. “There’s enough ‘oomph’ going on that I don’t think it would be a huge setback.” Moreover, the ALU is trying to organize two more Amazon facilities in New York.

Amazon, which has managed to keep organized labor out of its U.S. operations for more than a quarter-century, is fighting to get the JFK8 vote overturned. In a filing to the National Labor Relations Board last month, the Seattle-based company said the agency repeatedly “failed to protect the integrity and neutrality of its procedures” by turning away voters.

The NLRB also allowed media and union representatives to stay too close to the voting area, Amazon said, among other objections.

–With assistance from Michael Tobin and Josh Eidelson.

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