Amazon Labor Union loses vote at warehouse in New York after last month's historic win

Amazon Labor Union loses vote at warehouse in New York after last month’s historic win

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A grassroots labor union had a setback today after losing a vote at a warehouse in Staten Island, a loss that comes on the back of a big win last month.

This will come as a blow to the newly formed Amazon Labor Union, ALU, which won a vote last month at a much larger facility also in Staten Island. Workers at that warehouse, known as JFK8, made history when workers voted 2,654 in favor of unionization and 2,131 against, making it the first Amazon warehouse in the U.S. to unionize. In total, the facility has about 8,000 employees.

This latest vote, which was at the facility just across the street, went 380 for unionization and 618 against with about 1,600 workers eligible to cast a vote — many of whom are part-time workers. In light of what happened last month, perhaps this latest result will quell the fears of Amazon executives who may have considered that workers across the U.S. would see some benefits of unionization.

“The count has finished,” ALU tweeted after the vote. “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.”

The push for unionization had support from various sections of society, with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez saying after the first win that this was “the first domino to fall.” Ocasio-Cortez called working at one of the facilities an “indignity” that had to be changed, on top of offering multiple criticisms of the company and its practices.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was similarly critical of Amazon and in full support of unionizing, saying, “When you got a corporation that is making huge profits, you know what, you can pay your workers good wages, provide good benefits, and you can have decent working conditions, not what you got right now.”

The union was started by warehouse worker Christian Smalls, who first walked out over safety concerns. Amazon’s response to Smalls’ union plans was, to say the least, robust. The company created a reaction team that consisted of at least 10 different departments, including a Global Intelligence Program whose security staff have military experience. It seems for now that Amazon is winning, but such unionization efforts are expected to spread.

Photo: Scott Lewis/Flickr

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