mazon warehouse workers overwhelmingly rejected a union bid on Monday, dealing a blow to organizers who last month pulled off the first successful U.S. organizing effort in the retail giant’s history.
This time around, warehouse workers cast 618 votes — or about 62% — against the union, giving Amazon enough support to fend off a second labor win and raise questions as to whether the first victory was just a fluke.
According to the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees the process, 380 workers — or 38% — voted in favor of the grassroots union. Amazon provided a list of voters that included approximately 1,600 eligible voters. The turnout was 61%.
Amazon and the ALU did not challenge enough ballots to change the result. By Monday, both parties can file objections.
An additional election was held last month that gave the Amazon Labor Union, a new group of organizers, a surprising victory. Workers at another Staten Island facility voted for unionization. It was an unprecedented victory for Amazon USA.
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Monday’s defeat will surely sting. A second labor win was expected to fuel more organizing at the nation’s second largest employer, and cement the power and influence of the ALU.
But despite the momentum following the group’s prior win, it was unclear if it could replicate its success. The organizers claimed that they lost support from the warehouse following filing for elections in February. This was because they focused more effort on the nearby facility, which voted last month to unionize. There were also fewer organizers who worked in this facility – roughly 10, compared to the nearly 30 employed at the other warehouse.
The same obstacles that plagued the effort the first time, including Amazon’s aggressive anti-union tactics, were at play again. In the lead-up to the election, Amazon continued to hold mandatory meetings to persuade its workers to reject the union effort, posted anti-union flyers and launched a website urging workers to “vote NO.”
“Right now, the ALU is trying to come between our relationship with you,” a post on the website reads. “They think they can do a better job advocating for you than you are doing for yourself.”
Kelly Nantel, Amazon spokesperson had stated in a statement that employees have the right to choose whether they wish to join a union. But “as a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees,” Nantel said. “Our focus remains on working directly with our team to continue making Amazon a great place to work.”
Regardless of the Monday’s outcome, it was bound to be a tough road ahead for the ALU. Amazon has disputed the first election, arguing in a filing with the NLRB that the vote was tainted by organizers and by the board’s regional office in Brooklyn that oversaw the election. The company says it wants a redo election, but pro-union experts believe it’s an effort to delay contract negotiations and potentially blunt some of the organizing momentum. A separate NLRB regional office in the Southwest will hold a hearing later this month over the company’s objections.
The final result of the separate union election in Bessemer (Alabama) is currently in doubt with 416 unresolved challenged ballots still in dispute. The next week will see hearings for those ballots.
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