Amazon Warehouse Staff In Upstate NY Seek Union Election

Image credit: Amazon

Workers in upstate New York Amazon warehouse file a petition to form a trade union, National Labor Relations Board confirms

Amazon is facing another move to form a trade union on the east coast of America, after workers at a warehouse near Albany, New York, filed a petition for a union election.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) confirmed the development on Tuesday, saying staff at the facility, located in the New York town of Schodack, are seeking to be represented by the Amazon Labor Union.

The Amazon Labor Union of course is the grassroots group led by former employee Chris Smalls that successfully unionised one of the company’s Staten Island warehouses, known as JFK8, earlier this year.

Image credit: Amazon
Image credit: Amazon

Union vote

That Staten Island facility was the first warehouse in Amazon’s 28-year history to successfully vote to unionise.

But in May Amazon won the right to a hearing that could overturn that landmark union election.

Now CNBC has reported that the NLRB (a Federal agency responsible for enforcing labour laws in the US) confirmed that Amazon workers at a warehouse in upstate New York have filed a petition to form a union.

The warehouse is said to located in the town of Schodack, southeast of Albany, New York.

NLRB spokesperson Kayla Blado reportedly confirmed organisers at the warehouse, which is referred to as ALB1, filed a petition with the agency Tuesday for a proposed unit of 400 people.

Blado reportedly added that the NLRB’s regional office in Buffalo is in the process of verifying that the group has obtained a showing of interest, which indicates it has met the required threshold for employee signatures.

Heather Goodall, an ALB1 warehouse worker who’s leading the organising effort, said she and other organisers plan to hold a news conference Wednesday to discuss the union campaign.

Goodall and other workers have been trying to organise their workplace for the past few months.

Other attempts

CNBC reported that Amazon has taken notice of this, and late last month, it began holding meetings at ALB1 discouraging employees from unionising, including slideshow presentations that described unions as a “business that sell a service.”

Amazon is facing a number of attempts to form a trade union in other locations.

There was a failed attempt by the ALU in May at another Staten Island warehouse.

In April workers at Amazon’s delivery depot (DNK5) in Bayonne, New Jersey, withdrew an earlier request to hold a vote about forming a trade union.

But the Amazon Labor Union is reportedly gaining traction elsewhere, including in Albany and a warehouse in Kentucky.

Meanwhile, the results of an election at an Alabama facility remain too close to call.

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.

Amazon wellness booth

Amazon disclosed in a filing that 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.