Workers reject 2nd Amazon union bid in NYC

Business

NEW YORK (AP) — Workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York City rejected a union bid Monday, taking the steam out of a previous victory by labor organizers.

A federal labor board counted ballots cast by warehouse workers in what was the second Amazon union election on Staten Island.

A separate election held last month gave a nascent group of organizers known as the Amazon Labor Union a surprise victory when workers at a different Staten Island facility voted in favor of unionizing. That was a first for Amazon in the U.S.

It was unclear whether the ALU was going to be able to replicate its earlier success. There were fewer workers eligible to vote this time around — about 1,500 compared with 8,300 — and turnover at the facility is high. There are also fewer organizers involved in the latest election than the one before it.

The same obstacles that plagued the effort the first time, including Amazon’s aggressive anti-union tactics, were also at play again. In the lead-up to the election, Amazon continued to hold mandatory meetings to persuade its workers to reject the union effort, posted anti-union flyers and launched a website urging workers to “vote NO.”

“Right now, the ALU is trying to come between our relationship with you,” a post on the website reads. “They think they can do a better job advocating for you than you are doing for yourself.”

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement its employee’s choice 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.”

A second labor win could have given workers in other Amazon facilities — and at other companies — the motivation they need to launch similar efforts. It could have also cemented the power and influence of the ALU.

However, the union loss could mute some of the recent labor celebrations and raise questions about whether the first victory was just a fluke.

Amazon has disputed the first election, arguing in a filing with the NLRB 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.

Meanwhile, the final outcome of a separate union election in Bessemer, Alabama, is still up in the air with 416 outstanding challenged ballots hanging in the balance. Hearings to review those ballots are expected to begin in the coming weeks.

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