Amazon faces off with union in fight for a second warehouse

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Workers at a warehouse near Albany, which employs about 800 people, will end voting in the union election on Monday.

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The startup union that won a historic labor win at Amazon earlier this year is set to face the company again, aiming to win more wins that could force the reluctant retail behemoth to the negotiating table.


This time, the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) and the nation’s second-largest private employer face off in the town of Shodack, near Albany in New York state. Warehouse workers there, which employ about 800 people, will end voting in the union election on Monday, according to Amazon. The votes will be counted by the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday.

“There are a lot of odds against us as well, but I think there’s definitely a big chance that we can win,” said 18-year-old Sara Choudhary, who has organized activists since joining the company two months ago. “I can’t joke about it.”

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According to, the face-off near the state capitol — one of the most unionized metro areas in the country — is the third time ALU is taking on the Amazon since its initial victory at its Staten Island facility in April. That win — a first for an Amazon facility in the US — was a surprise even to those who sympathized for the union’s $30 hourly wage and better working conditions for warehouse workers.

But soon, challenges began to emerge. A damage in a second at a nearby warehouse in May took some of the wind out of Union’s sails. The fractures surfaced when some of the major organizers left the group.

Elsewhere, the Union squandered time and resources attempting to consolidate its lone victory. Amazon has accused the ALU and NLRB field offices in Brooklyn of sabotaging the vote. Wanting to hold re-election, the company filed more than two dozen objections with the agency, starting a lengthy process that could take years to resolve.

Last month, a federal labor official presiding over the hearing ruled against the company, which has noted that it intends to appeal. During an interview last month, Amazon CEO Andy Jesse also hinted that the retail giant may be dragging the case to federal court.

“Amazon is ready to fight to the death,” said John Logan, director of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University. “And the problem for the Amazon Labor Union is that if you only have one warehouse…

amazon push back

Experts say the election in Albany gives the ALU a chance to show its victory. Organizer Heather Goodall, the main worker at the facility, began campaigning at the warehouse in May, three months after joining the company and one month after the Staten Island victory. He said that his passion for forming the union came from the death of his son, who had committed suicide six years ago while working for a large company.

The Election Is A Chance For The Amazon Union To Show Its April Victory Isn’t A Bar [File: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg]

“So when I heard that working conditions in my own community were questionable — and I have a 17- and 15-year-old who goes to the school district in the area where Amazon does its business — I first wanted to see if was going on,” Goodall said.

Amazon launched its own campaign to push back the organizing effort. As with other warehouses, the company mandated meetings at the Shodack facility in an effort to persuade workers to decline union. It also put up more flyers in the warehouse and urged workers to “vote no”.

“Do not sign the ALU card,” the company said on a sign posted on a screen at the facility. “The ALU has not been tested and is unproven.”

“We’ve always said that we want our employees to have their voices heard, and we hope and hope that this process allows for that,” Amazon spokesman Paul Flanningen said in a statement.

Challenges in building support

Last week, Amazon employees at a separate facility in Moreno Valley, California, sought to join the ALU for their own union election. Nanette Placencia, who has worked at the warehouse for seven years, said she and her colleagues have been trying to organize the facility for more than two years, but the company’s famously high turnover rate hasn’t supported building enough. made challenging.

Another election, led by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, with 416 challenged ballots still awaiting justice. The vote, to be held in February and March, was the union’s second attempt to be held there after an earlier loss.

Unlike Starbucks stores, which have voted to unionize by the hundreds over the past year, organizing an Amazon warehouse is a far more difficult task. Facilities typically employ hundreds – or even thousands – of employees. And it can take months for an election to show enough support.

Amazon warehouse workers at a facility in Garner, North Carolina, a suburb of Raleigh, have been organizing for months and plan to file for elections before the end of September next year, said Tim Platt, an Amazon worker who supported Soliciting Carolina Amazonian campaigns under a group called United for Solidarity and Empowerment, or Cause. Organizers are taking their time to file for the election so that by the time workers start voting they can be sure of the result.

The activists there chose not to form an alliance with the ALU, although the organizers still regularly coordinate with each other. Platt said that employees may join another union in the future. He’s met Teamsters, which last month launched a division focused on organizing Amazon employees. But for now, Platt said they are focusing only on the event.

Mendoza, the ALU’s director of communications, said the union is trying to support other workers forming their own organizing committees across the country. However, their main task would be to file their election petitions and build more support in the facility, which voted to unionize when it needed to call for strike-like action.

The union is able to hire two full-time employees to help with training and meetings. A $250,000 donation from the American Federation of Teachers has also allowed him to obtain office space in Staten Island. They are building support, but it takes time, Mendoza said.

“You can lose some elections or win others,” he said. “We’re not worried about an individual outcome like Amazon. They really can’t afford to lose one.”

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