person wearing Amazon Labor Union shirt

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Amazon fails to overturn New York City warehouse union vote

The company is expected to challenge the decision.

 

Jacob Seitz

Tech

Amazon failed to overturn the union vote at a Staten Island warehouse Wednesday after a labor official rejected the company’s bid.

The regional director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said there was insufficient evidence to support Amazon’s claims of improper election protocols from the Amazon Labor Union and the NLRB.

The decision from the NLRB puts the Amazon Labor Union one step closer to having its first unionized warehouse at the JFK8 facility in Staten Island.

In a tweet, Chris Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union, asked Amazon CEO Andy Jassy to “come to the table” and make a deal on a contract. Amazon and Smalls did not respond to a request for comment.

Chris Smalls and JFK8 won a union election back in April, making the warehouse the first Amazon location to successfully approve unionization. With roughly 55 percent of workers voting to unionize, Amazon contested the results of the election, claiming that union organizers threatened employees to get them to vote for unionization. The company also questioned whether the NLRB was a biased entity in the vote after the NLRB filed a lawsuit just before the election accusing Amazon of firing a Staten Island worker illegally

But the fight isn’t over for Chris Smalls and the ALU. Despite a major victory on Wednesday, Amazon plans to challenge the decision again, which will move its complaint up to NLRB’s Washington, D.C. offices. This ruling is just another step in a lengthy process. The first decision in Amazon’s challenge came back in September when a hearing officer said its contest of the election was invalid. The company then challenged that decision, which led Cornele Overstreet, a regional director with the NLRB, to make his decision yesterday.

A ruling from the ruling board in the NLRB’s D.C. offices could take months.

The ALU has failed to capitalize on the momentum that the JFK8 vote gave them, losing a bid to unionize a second facility in Staten Island and slowing organization efforts due to Amazon’s protest of the JFK8 vote. But Smalls has become a celebrity, for better or for worse, appearing on the cover of New York Magazine twice and garnering national attention. Smalls testified before Congress last year about union-busting efforts Amazon made against him and the ALU, saying Amazon was pulling staff into “classrooms” and questioning them on their union support while feeding them anti-union propaganda. 

Jassy has publicly stated that the union vote “has a real chance to end up in federal court” because he doubts the NLRB will rule against itself. But Jassy has also been cited by the NLRB for making comments on television that have violated labor law.

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