Following last year’s defeat of a union-organizing effort at the Amazon distribution center in Bessemer, Ala., union organizers in New York have succeeded in winning a vote to join an upstart labor union in what Bloomberg described as an historic victory for the company’s workers.
Unlike the original vote last summer in Bessemer, the outcome of the vote at the Staten Island warehouse (known as JFK8) wasn’t even close, with the union winning handily by a margin of hundreds of votes according to the initial count, per Bloomberg.
The election at Amazon’s JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island wasn’t close, with the Amazon Labor Union winning 2,654 yes votes versus 2,131 no votes for the company. After signing the election results, ALU founder Christian Smalls clapped, pointed his fingers to the sky and raised a fist in triumph.
The loss by Amazon’s management marks a major setback for the company, which is now being led by CEO Andy Jassy. Amazon has managed to keep unions out of its business for a quarter century. And unless the company can somehow overturn the results, it will soon need to restart negotiations with the union. Amazon has until April 8 to appeal the results. A union contract could force Amazon to pay higher wages, which in turn could force it to raise prices, adding to the inflationary pressures currently plaguing the US.
A union could also seriously hamper Amazon’s ability to deliver products within the two-day timeline – and at the ultra-low cost – that it has promised to its Amazon Prime members. Union rules will likely make it more difficult for the company to adjust scheduling on the fly.
Amazon Labor Union founder Christian Smalls seized the opportunity to gloat about the union’s victory in a tweet where he noted that the vote would result in the first unionized Amazon facility in the US.
@amazon wanted to make me the face of the whole unionizing efforts against them…. welp there you go! @JeffBezos @DavidZapolsky CONGRATULATIONS ???? @amazonlabor We worked had fun and made History ??????? #ALU # ALUfortheWin welcome the 1st union in America for Amazon ????????????????
— Christian Smalls (@Shut_downAmazon) April 1, 2022
Almost as remarkable as the victory itself is the fact that Smalls managed to best Amazon with little outside support from organized labor. Instead, he relied on guerilla tactics like posting videos of “union busters” whom he accused of illegally trying to remove union-organizing-related materials, among other alleged violations, including alleged representatives of Amazon HR, who were caught removing union materials from a break room.
Why is Amazon HR removing union literature.https://t.co/zt0w7MhRjW
— MSatYT (@MannySatYT) March 28, 2022
Smalls will get a second opportunity to extend his victory on April 25, when workers at another Amazon facility in Staten Island will vote on whether or not to join the ALU.
In a statement released shortly after the results were announced, Amazon said it was “disappointed” with the outcome of Friday’s vote, and added that the firm is “evaluating” all of its options.
— Susan Li (@SusanLiTV) April 1, 2022
But the situation isn’t all bad for Amazon. Unfortunately for the organizers in Bessemer, a second union vote, held yesterday, again failed to win enough votes to succeed, likely dooming the organizing effort there for years (although that result still needs to be formally certified, which might be complicated by the fact that a number of ballots have been challenged by both sides).