Unionization votes at Amazon distribution center facilities in New York and Alabama are drawing closer to their conclusions. The Staten Island, N.Y. workers have voted to unionize with a slight majority, while the Bessmer, Ala. DC’s results are too close to call, according to The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and other media outlets. A hearing regarding contested ballots in Alabama will be conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) at some time in the coming weeks.
The Staten Island facility, known as JFK8, secured a 55% majority in favor of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), according to a count released by the NLRB. The number of employees eligible to participate in the Staten Island vote was 8,325.
“We’re disappointed with the outcome of the election in Staten Island because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees,” Amazon said in a statement seen by Reuters. The ecommerce giant said it is evaluating options, including filing objections based on inappropriate and undue influence by the NLRB.
If the vote clears any objections and gets certified by the NLRB as representing employees, union negotiators will have a chance to bargain with Amazon on behalf of unionized employees at JFK8. Proponents of the union say it will help workers advocate for better pay, breaks and vacation time.
Alabama Unionization is Getting Closer — Even if it Fails
A plurality (43%) of workers voted against unionization in the Alabama election, compared to 38% who voted to unionize. However, the final outcome rests on 416 challenged ballots — a large enough share of votes to change the result, according to the NLRB. Currently, the pro-union side is only trailing by 118 votes. Even a failure would be very different from the efforts in early 2021, when workers voted by a more than 2-to-1 margin against unionizing.
As in New York, workers at the BHM1 facility who support unionization are seeking an opportunity to bargain with the company over its policies, pay and benefits. Organizers have said that more employees have become aware of the union process since the previous failed vote and high vaccination rates made visiting with workers easier. This second vote at the Bessemer DC was run in part because of questions about Amazon’s anti-union tactics.
Amazon will face unionization efforts at other warehouses as well. A vote is currently scheduled for the week of April 25 at a second Staten Island facility. Additionally, Dan Cornfield, a labor expert and professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University, told Reuters that he expects the initial victory to accelerate the spread of labor activism across the country.
Starbucks has been facing similar pressure at some of its locations. Associates at three cafés in the Buffalo, N.Y. area voted to join Workers United, a union affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, in March 2022, according to NPR. They will join two other Buffalo stores that voted to unionize in December 2021, as well as a Mesa, Ariz. café that voted to unionize in early 2022.