An Amazon warehouse in Castleton, N.Y. is the latest of the ecommerce giant’s to seek unionization, according to the National Labor Relations Board. The Amazon Labor Union, which led one successful and one unsuccessful unionization push at Staten Island, N.Y. warehouses earlier in 2022, filed the petition.
The union would represent approximately 400 workers at the Castleton warehouse, including many associates who worked an average of four hours or more per week during the 13 weeks immediately preceding the eligibility date for the election.
“Our employees have the choice of whether or not to join a union,” said Paul Flanagan, spokesperson for Amazon in an interview with Reuters. “They always have. As a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees. Our focus remains on working directly with our team to continue making Amazon a great place to work.”
Amazon warehouses have been slower to unionize than Starbucks stores, which have racked up more than 200 victories in 2022, and the effort has experienced several setbacks. The first attempted unionization push, which occurred at an Alabama warehouse in April 2021, failed. A union petition was filed for a New Jersey warehouse in April 2022 but ultimately was withdrawn.
Unions are still very much the exception rather than the rule in retail footprints, but their spread is causing a stir. Companies including Apple and Trader Joe’s are experiencing successful union activity at some locations, and the continued unionization of Starbucks stores shows that the efforts are gaining momentum, particularly at retailers that express progressive values.
“[These retailers] support Black Lives Matter, they support LGBTQ rights and they support environmental justice,” said John Logan, Professor and Chair of the Labor and Employment Studies Department at San Francisco State University in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Because of that they attract a particular type of workers who are attracted to those values, and these are the types of workers who support unions. It sounds overly simplistic, but in essence Starbucks has hired the kind of self-confident, independent-minded barista who has given this union campaign its dynamism.”