In a vote of 618 to 380, Amazon workers at a Staten Island, New York, facility rejected forming a union, according to a tally Monday from the National Labor Relations Board. Any objections to the election are due May 9, the agency said by email.
The Amazon Labor Union didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but on Twitter vowed to carry on. “The election has concluded without the union being recognized at LDJ5—sortation center on Staten Island,” the group said following the vote count. “The organizing will continue at this facility and beyond. The fight has just begun.”
Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in an emailed statement: “We’re glad that our team at LDJ5 were able to have their voices heard. We look forward to continuing to work directly together as we strive to make every day better for our employees.”
If the Amazon Labor Union's victory several weeks ago at a larger facility known as JFK8, also in Staten Island, seemed like a turning point, this loss demonstrates how difficult it is to organize workers.
In fact, the union's previous win is being revisited, after the NLRB granted Amazon the right to a hearing over its objections to what it alleges were biased comments by the NLRB regional director overseeing the process. Another union election, a second attempt by a Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse to organize, hasn't been officially called as the NLRB reviews objections by the union. That effort itself was a do-over following the NLRB's finding that Amazon's anti-union activities were improper.
In a tweet following the tally, Amazon Labor Union leader Christian Smalls said the group "had a tougher challenge after our victory at JFK8." The grassroots group is unaffiliated with a major labor union, funded via GoFundMe, setting up a David-and-Goliath scenario.
The count has finished. The election has concluded without the union being recognized at LDJ5—sortation center on Staten Island. The organizing will continue at this facility and beyond. The fight has just begun. #ALU— Amazon Labor Union (@amazonlabor) May 2, 2022
That has both hurt and helped their effort, according to John Logan, an expert in labor and anti-labor activities who teaches at the Lam Family College of Business at San Francisco State University. On the one hand, the group doesn't have deep pockets. On the other, it's unlikely to give in, where a more established labor group might move on.
"The ALU organizers aren't going anywhere — they are Amazon Staten Island employees, and they are committed to organizing the next two faculties at that location," he said by email.
It's a setback, and not just for this union. But Amazon had more to lose, Logan also said.
"The loss will be a tough test of the staying power of the ALU," he said. "In many ways, this election was even more important to Amazon than it was to the ALU – a second defeat could have proved fatal to the company’s efforts to stop the organizing from spreading like wildfire, just as it has done at Starbucks."