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Another Amazon Warehouse in NY Could Unionize

The unionization push at Amazon has come to a head in Upstate New York as the e-commerce giant awaits the results of yet another election.

Votes by Amazon workers at the “ALB1” warehouse in Castleton-on-Hudson, N.Y., will be counted starting Tuesday morning, at the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB’s) regional office in Buffalo, N.Y.

The fulfillment center’s roughly 400 workers began voting last Wednesday and could cast ballots through Monday.

“Amazon would like to see ALU go away, but we’re here to stay,” said Derrick Palmer, an Amazon worker and vice president of Amazon Labor Union (ALU), in a statement. “The vote in Albany is the next step in this journey. If we win, we will celebrate and prepare for negotiations. If we aren’t successful, we will continue to fight for workers and prepare for another election. Some facilities may require multiple union elections before we prevail.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to Sourcing Journal’s request for comment.

The decision by workers in New York comes six months after nearly 8,000 Amazon employees won an historic unionization election at the e-commerce giant’s “JFK8” facility in Staten Island.

Last week, a group of 800 Amazon workers who want to form a union with ALU filed for an NLRB election at a facility in Southern California’s Inland Empire, called “ONT8.”

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ALU cited data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in its claims that ALB1 has seen higher rates of serious worker injuries than warehouses operated by other companies.

In 2021, the total injury rate at Amazon warehousing and logistics facilities in New York State was nine per 100 full-time equivalent workers (FTEs), 29 percent higher than at non-Amazon facilities, which had seven serious injuries per 100 FTEs. The rate of the most serious injuries at Amazon warehousing and logistics facilities (eight per 100 FTEs) was 40 percent higher than at non-Amazon facilities in the state (5.7 per 100 FTEs).

And it is not just injuries workers and labor rights activists are concerned about. OSHA opened multiple probes into Amazon after three deaths in three separate New Jersey warehouses across July and August.

The N.Y. warehouse handles the packing and shipment of large and heavy consumer goods, and is one of four Amazon facilities where fires broke out recently. More than 50 workers inside the JFK8 warehouse were suspended on Oct. 4 following a worker safety protest in response to a fire at the building.

ALU has filed 27 unfair labor practice charges against Amazon with the NLRB in relation to the ALB1 vote. The organizer claims that Amazon has violated agreed-to election rules by threatening to fire ALB1 workers who were scheduled to serve as election observers.

Amazon lost the effort to overturn the Staten Island unionization election in September, after accusing the Brooklyn office of the NLRB of violating labor law by appearing to support the union drive.

An NLRB administrative law judge recommended dismissing all 25 of Amazon’s election objections, with the tech titan itself alleging that labor organizers intimidated workers to vote in their favor.

In its statement, the ALU accused Amazon of using the “classic union-busting tactic of ‘delay and stall.’” An NLRB regional director will next weigh in on the decision. Amazon still has not conceded defeat.

“I am just one of many faces making up the new labor movement, built on solidarity and mutual aid,” said Sarah Chaudry, an ALB1 worker in the facility’s pack department. “No matter the outcome, and despite all the union-busting and unfair labor practices, we recognize that a union election is just one step in a much longer struggle. I will continue to fight for my fellow workers’ rights until we have our union at ALB1 and until all Amazon workers secure their right to a union.”

Unfortunately for Amazon, the fight from employees won’t be slowing down any time soon. On Friday, workers at a Stone Mountain, Ga. facility charges with the NLRB on allegations of coercive statements such as threats or promises of benefits, and concerted activities including retaliation and discipline.

The Stone Mountain warehouse codenamed “ATL2” recently had approximately 50 employees stage a walkout during the company’s inaugural Prime Early Access event advocating for safer working conditions. The walkout occurred one day after a worker passed out on site from heat exhaustion. The following week, another employee passed out on the job.

Amazon employees have held previous walkouts this year at the same location in an ongoing campaign demanding the company pay them a minimum of $24 per hour. In September, Amazon said it was increasing the average hourly starting wage from $18 an hour to more than $19 an hour, which is based on a range of $16 to $26 per hour. The company expects to incur about $1 billion in costs related to the wage increases over the next year. 

Similar walkouts occurred at another Georgia facility and two Amazon distribution centers in Joliet, Ill., during the sale event.

And on Saturday, the Bessemer, Ala. warehouse that spurred the first Amazon unionization push despite twice being unsuccessful, again filed a complaint with the NLRB alleging Amazon was interfering with employee rights via interrogation, coercive statements and concerted activities like discipline. The workers also made accusations that Amazon laid off employees based on their pro-union beliefs.

Employees at these facilities are gaining more allies as news of the unionization attempts picks up. In late September, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters staged a rally outside Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, with 1,000 members calling for the company’s workforce to band together and urging improvements in working conditions. 

Earlier that month, the union launched an Amazon Division focused on organizing the company’s employees in the warehouse and logistics space.