Amazon employees vote against unionizing at a warehouse in upstate New York.


On October 10, supporters of the Amazon Labor Union marched under the direction of organizer Heather Goodall, who works in an Amazon facility close to Albany, New York. Caption by Lucas Willard/WAMC hidden

switch to caption The Amazon Labor Union’s supporters marched on October 10 under the direction of Lucas Willard/WAMC organizer Heather Goodall, who works at an Amazon warehouse close to Albany, New York.

WAMC/Lucas Willard An early attempt to unionize Amazon warehouse workers near Albany, New York, has failed after they voted against it. This is one of the largest employers in the nation.

More than 900 Amazon workers had the option of voting to join the fledgling Amazon Labor Union, which is led by present and former Amazon warehouse workers who are not members of established unions. 406 people voted against unionization, while 206 people voted in favor.

In the past, the ALU achieved history by winning a union election on Staten Island in New York and organizing Amazon’s first American warehouse, which employed more than 8,300 people. Later, it failed to garner enough support to organize a second warehouse in Staten Island, New York. In a dispute that is expected to go to court, Amazon is still attempting to have the ALU’s victory overturned.

After successfully thwarting attempts to organize the labor force for decades as it developed into one of the biggest employers in the country, Amazon has suddenly faced five union elections in less than two years. With Tuesday’s outcome, only one of the five has seen unions win. Amazon employees in California became the latest to petition for their own vote to join the ALU last week.

Workers at the ALB1 warehouse in the Albany region cast their votes in person over the course of four days while sitting in a tent in the parking lot of the building. Officials from the National Labor Relations Board counted them by hand on Tuesday, streaming the procedure live online.

ALU President Chris Smalls claimed in a statement that the firm had intimidated employees and otherwise influenced the election results, saying “This won’t be the end of ALU at ALB1.”

We are fully committed to advancing our campaign for equitable treatment of all Amazon employees, he stated. “It is not a loss, it is an ongoing battle when workers are empowered to take on a greedy uncaring firm with a bad safety track record and a high churn rate of workers.”

Smalls, an Amazon warehouse worker who was dismissed after he assisted in organizing a walkout during the pandemic, previously claimed to have heard from workers at hundreds of other Amazon warehouses who were interested in organizing.

According to Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel, “We’re delighted that our team in Albany was able to have their opinions heard and that they opted to preserve the direct relationship with Amazon since we think that this is the ideal arrangement for both our employees and consumers.”

Federal labor inspectors had approved the union election at the warehouse in the Albany area after examining the quantity of signatures received by the organizers. They must submit signatures from 30% of the workers who want to be represented by them under the rules. Although Amazon later claimed the warehouse employed more than 800 employees, the union had estimated that only roughly 400 workers were eligible to vote.

Pro-union employees at the warehouse have argued for more pay and raise several safety issues. a fire broke out ; a probe is still ongoing from earlier this month. Amazon has also been charged with intimidation and retaliation by activists, and the business held required sessions for staff members in an effort to suppress pro-union votes.

Representatives of Amazon have claimed that the purpose of the sessions was to inform employees of the unionization process, and that hundreds of operational and safety-related adjustments were implemented as a result of employee feedback. With the launch of starting pay of warehouse and delivery workers increasing to $16 an hour this month, Amazon boasts about its benefits and pay.

Amazon, which was under fire for its hiring practices, and the National Labor Relations Board in December agreed an agreement aimed at facilitating employee organizing. The business is still frequently accused of unfair labor practices, which it denies.

Workers in a different, smaller Staten Island warehouse rejected joining the union shortly after the ALU’s success there. Additionally, Amazon warehouse employees in Alabama staged a second union ballot after American labor inspectors determined the business unfairly influenced their first election in 2021. The new election results are still uncertain.

voted against in a Delaware warehouse had a limited number of maintenance and repair technicians unionize in 2014 before that. During the dot-com bust, the corporation closed the Seattle call center where tried to organize 400 Amazon employees had been working.

Editor’s note: Amazon is one of the most recent sponsors of NPR.