Amazon Staff At New Jersey Facility To Hold Union Vote

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Snowballing movement? National Labor Relations Board says Amazon staff at New Jersey facility have enough signatures to hold union vote

Amazon could be facing a snowballing situation concerning trade unions, after another of its facilities on the east coast gathered enough signatures to hold a ballot on the matter.

This is according to the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which announced on Monday that a small facility in northern New Jersey has shown enough interest to hold a vote on unionising.

It comes just weeks after an Amazon warehouse (JFK8) in Staten Island, New York became the first warehouse in Amazon’s 28-year history to successfully vote to unionise.

Union vote

The Amazon Labor Union (ALU), which is not backed by any larger union and is staffed by current and former Amazon workers, won that Staten Island vote by 2,654 votes to 2,131.

But Amazon has already appealed against that vote, alleging misconduct by the NLRB regional office which oversaw the election at its Staten Island facility.

Workers at a second Staten Island warehouse meanwhile are said to be weighing later this month whether to unionise.

Which leads to New Jersey, where Amazon is facing the prospects of another union vote.

At least 60 of 200 workers from Amazon’s delivery depot (DNK5) in Bayonne, New Jersey, have submitted cards seeking to organise as part of Local 713 International Brotherhood of the Trade Union (IBOTU), the NLRB said.

The proposed Bayonne union would cover 200 workers at the fulfillment centre on Newark Bay that opened in 2020.

NLRB spokesperson Kayla Blado told The New York Post on Monday that at least 30 percent of the eligible employees had signed union cards and that the agency is now working to schedule a union election.

An election date and terms have yet to be agreed upon, and Amazon could dispute the validity of this latest petition.

Amazon reluctance

Amazon has, what can best be described, as a reluctant attitude towards trade unions.

The e-commerce giant had until recently, fended off every other effort to unionise in the US (most notably in Alabama), as the firm publicly states that it does not think unions are the best answer for its employees.

Instead Amazon said it focuses on working directly with staff to continue making Amazon a great place to work.

In a recently released filing, Amazon disclosed it spent about $4.2m in 2021 on labour consultants, who organisers say the company uses to persuade workers not to unionise.

Amazon also landed itself in hot water in September 2020 over two job adverts for “intelligence analysts”, who would be responsible for reporting on activities “including labour organising threats against the company.”

Amazon however said the adverts were badly worded and withdrew the adverts, but credence was added to the suspicion it was hiring people to spy on trade unions as the job listings cited previous experience desired for the role, which said “an officer in the intelligence community, the military, law enforcement, or a related global security role in the private sector.”

To be fair, in October 2020 Amazon said it would respect the rights of workers to join a trade union.

But in February 2019, Amazon cancelled plans to build one of its second headquarters in New York, after the e-commerce giant encountered unexpected local opposition to its plans, partly down to its opposing unionisation.