A pregnant worker and labor activist says Amazon made her pick up trash alone

Amazon warehouse workers vote to unionize in Staten Island (updated)

This will be Amazon’s first unionized warehouse in the US.

Jon Fingas
J. Fingas
April 1st, 2022
A pregnant worker and labor activist says Amazon made her pick up trash alone
Workers stand in line to cast ballots for a union election at Amazon’s JFK8 distribution center, in the Staten Island borough of New York City, U.S., March 25, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid. Brendan McDermid / reuters

There should be at least one unionized Amazon warehouse in the US. CNBC reports Workers at the company’s JFK8 facility in Staten Island have voted 2,350-1,912 in favor of joining a union in a late March election. While the official count isn’t yet available, the remaining uncounted and challenged ballots aren’t expected to sway the outcome.

The decision came after numerous challenges. Workers had to file a second petition with the National Labor Relations Board after they didn’t get enough signatures last fall. The NLRB has also accused Amazon of interfering with unionization efforts at JFK8, including firing pro-union workers and intimidating them through surveillance and questioning.

The Amazon Labor Union at the heart of the vote has made multiple demands. Its requests include higher pay, “more reasonable” productivity targets and additional time off. Amazon has faced multiple claims it relies on unrealistic quotas and discourages time away from work stations.

We’ve asked Amazon for comment. It’s likely to be unhappy with the results, though. Amazon spent $4.3 million on anti-union consultants just in 2021, and the internet shopping giant was accused of interference elsewhere. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union even claimed Amazon interfered with a second unionization vote in Bessemer, Alabama that the NLRB deemed necessary due to obstruction during the first election.

Provided the election results hold, the vote would make JFK8 the first Amazon warehouse with a union. There’s no guarantee this will lead to other warehouses following suit. The second Bessemer vote was close enough that it will likely be decided by challenged ballots, to start. A second Staten Island location is due to vote April 25th, though, and this initial win for the pro-union camp might just influence other votes.

Update 4/1 1:50PM ET: In a statement, Amazon said it was “disappointed” with the Staten Island vote and was considering options that included filing objections to the alleged “inappropriate and undue influence” from the NLRB. It cited support from private business groups including the Chamber of Commerce and the National Retail Federation.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics   

(5)