Amazon Workers In Albany Vote Against Union – Heemang Parmar
Workers at an Amazon distribution center near Albany, New York, have voted decisively against forming a union, rejecting a bid by organizers to create the company’s second unionized facility in the U.S.
Employees at the ALB1 facility in Castleton would have been represented by the Amazon Labor Union, the same upstart group that won a historic election at the company’s JFK8 warehouse on Staten Island in New York City earlier this year. The “no” votes came out ahead by a roughly 2-1 margin.
Chris Smalls, president of the ALU, said in a statement that the voting process “wasn’t free and fair.”
“It was a sham election where workers were subjected to intimidation and retaliation on a daily basis and even the workers who volunteered to be election observers were faced with threats of termination,” Smalls alleged.
He added, “This won’t be the end of ALU at ALB1.”
Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement that the company would “continue to work directly with our teammates in Albany.”
“We’re glad that our team in Albany was able to have their voices heard, and that they chose to keep the direct relationship with Amazon as we think that this is the best arrangement for both our employees and customers,” Nantel said.
The union may choose to challenge the election results and demand a second vote, arguing that Amazon broke labor law during the campaign. The National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that oversees private-sector union elections, has not yet certified the results. The union would have a week to make an appeal.
The ALB1 facility handles large merchandise that’s shipped out to customers and employs around 900 workers. It is much smaller by headcount than the Staten Island facility, which employs around 8,000 people.
After prevailing at JFK8, the ALU lost their second vote in May at another, smaller facility in New York City. A loss at the facility near Albany would mark the union’s second defeat. The ALU recently filed for another election at a warehouse in Southern California.
The vote count for ALB1 was conducted at the labor board’s office in Albany and broadcast to the public over Zoom.
The retail and tech giant is one of several major U.S. employers facing an organizing wave in the workplace. The NLRB recently said workers filed more union election petitions this past fiscal year than in any since 2016. Companies including Amazon, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, REI and Apple have all seen a share of their U.S. workforces unionize for the first time in recent months.
Amazon, which now employs roughly a million American workers, has fought its employees’ organizing efforts for years. In 2021, it spent more than $4 million on union-avoidance consultants who held group and one-on-one meetings meant to undermine union support. The ALU said the company held mandatory sessions at ALB1 where employees listened to anti-union talking points.
The NLRB’s general counsel recently found merit in allegations from the union that Amazon violated the law by holding such meetings, and by threatening to withhold certain benefits if workers chose to unionize.
This story has been updated with comment from Amazon and the ALU.