June 27, 2022

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Amazon has won the right to a hearing that could overturn a landmark union election at one of its warehouses in Staten Island.

The decision comes as the results of a second election in a separate Staten Island facility are due to be announced later on Monday.

Last month saw a surprise success by the nascent Amazon Labor Union (ALU), operated by current and former Amazon workers, as staff at Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse in the New York City borough of Staten Island voted to unionise.

It was the first time in Amazon’s nearly 28-year history that staff at a US facility voted for organised labour.

Image credit: Amazon
Image credit: Amazon

‘Disappointed’

Amazon last month accused the Brooklyn office of the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) of appearing to support the union drive, and the case was transferred to the NLRB’s Phoenix, Arizona-based region.

The Phoenix office’s director, Cornele Overstreet, said in a Friday filing that the evidence behind Amazon’s claims “could be grounds for overturning the election”.

Overstreet did not specify which of Amazon’s 25 objections could invalidate the election.

He said parties could present testimony beginning on 23 May, after which an NLRB officer would recommend whether to uphold the result. The process could take several weeks.

ALU attorney Eric Milner told Reuters the bar to get a hearing was “very low” and that no official had so far reviewed Amazon’s alleged evidence.

“While the ALU is disappointed in any delay by Amazon in its bargaining obligations we remain confident that all of Amazon’s objections will ultimately be overruled,” Milner said.

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Objections

Amazon said in a statement that the vote was not representative of JFK8 workers’ wishes.

“Fewer than a third of the employees at the site voted for the union,” the company said.

The company added that it does not think “unions are the best answer for our employees” and that its “focus remains on working directly with our team to continue making Amazon a great place to work”.

Amongst its formal objections to the NLRB the online retailer has also alleged that ALU organisers intimidated workers to vote in their favour, claims denied by the union.

Some 55 percent of employees who voted at the JFK8 facility opted to join the union, with turnout at about 58 percent.

Second vote

The results of a second union vote at a smaller Amazon Staten Island facility, the DYX2 delivery station, are due to be announced early on Monday evening, US East Coast time.

Only about 1,500 workers there are eligible for the vote that began last week, compared to 8,300 at JFK8, and there are only about 10 organisers at DYX2 compared to about 30 for the JFK8 vote.

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