Amazon faces another high-stakes union election as the vote kicks off in Staten Island

Amazon faces another high-stakes union election

March 29, 2022: -On Friday, a stream of Amazon workers exited a sprawling warehouse on New York’s Staten Island after wrapping up the daytime shift. Many of them packed into city buses to head home. They walked past a large, white tent stretching across a chunk of the parking lot on their way. That tent will be a binding site for the next five days. Workers at the facility, called JFK8, just started voting on whether to join the Amazon Labor Union, a group made up of current and former company employees.

The results carry a huge beyond New York City’s small borough and affect workers at all of the warehouses of Amazon, where two-day Prime shipping is made possible.

On Friday, the buzz was palpable as employees at JFK8 milled almost bus stop chatting about the election. Few sported yellow “vote yes” lanyards, while others wore blue “vote no” t-shirts.

The election is running through March 30, and the National Labor Relations Board will start counting votes the following day. ALU has called on Amazon to raise the salaries, along with other demands. Amazon recently expanded its average starting pay to $18 an hour.

It’s the union vote at an Amazon warehouse, a potentially concerning sign for a company that long shunned organized labor. Employees at Amazon’s facility in Bessemer, Alabama, were the first to try and unionize in the previous spring. That effort failed, but workers there are at it again after the NLRB ordered a do-over as of improper interference in the prior union drive.

In Alabama and New York, workers vote on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. Organizing efforts are underway at other facilities, including at one more Staten Island warehouse, where an election is slated to begin later in the coming month.

The more national labor unions have targeted Amazon, the more aggressive Amazon is becoming in discouraging employees from joining.

At JFK8, Amazon papered the walls with banners proclaiming “Vote No.” The company has set up a website, telling employees, “The ALU is making big promises but offering very little detail on the way they will achieve them.” Amazon has held weekly meetings with anti-union presentations that employees must sit through.

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