Amazon loses bid to overturn historic union victory over Staten Island warehouse: NPR


Amazon union president Chris Smalls speaks at a rally in New York on September 5. The company had fired Smalls from its Staten Island warehouse after he helped lead a pandemic-era strike.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images


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Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images


Amazon union president Chris Smalls speaks at a rally in New York on September 5. The company had fired Smalls from its Staten Island warehouse after he helped lead a pandemic-era strike.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Amazon should recognize its first unionized warehouse in the United States, a federal labor official has said, dismissing the company’s attempt to unravel a groundbreaking labor victory on Staten Island.

On Wednesday, National Labor Relations Board Area 28 Regional Director Cornele Overstreet dismissed Amazon’s allegations that labor board officers and union organizers improperly influenced the union vote. In the spring, the fledgling Amazon Labor Union won the right to represent some 8,000 workers at the massive New York warehouse.

Wednesday’s decision requires Amazon to enter into “good faith” negotiations with the union. However, the company is expected to appeal the decision to the full labor board in Washington, DC, which it can request by Jan. 25. Labor experts say council members are likely to side with their regional colleagues in confirming the union’s victory. The case could make its way to court.

“I think it’s going to take a long time,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy told a conference in September, citing “troublesome irregularities” in the vote.

The future of organizing at Amazon hangs in the balance, where unions have struggled to gain a foothold as the company’s warehouse network has exploded, making it the second largest private employer in the United States after Walmart.

Now workers at another Amazon warehouse in Shakopee, Minn., are pushing for an election on whether to join the Amazon Labor Union, which is led by former and current Amazon workers. Amazon. And some 400 workers at a warehouse near Albany, NY, voted 406 to 206 against unionizing in October.

Earlier last year, Amazon workers at a second, smaller Staten Island warehouse voted 618 to 380 against joining the ALU. And organizing efforts at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama have so far been unsuccessful.

In Staten Island, ALU won the first union election by more than 500 votes in 2022. Soon after, Amazon challenged the result.

The company alleged that union organizers coerced and deceived warehouse workers and that Brooklyn-based labor officials overseeing the elections acted on behalf of the union. In September, the NLRB lawyer who presided over weeks of hearings on the case recommended that Amazon’s objections be dismissed in their entirety.

Editor’s note: Amazon is one of NPR’s recent financial backers.

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