Amazon’s first union in the United States fails in a second warehouse

The Amazon Labor Union (ALU), on the strength of a first resounding victory at the beginning of April, did not succeed in immediately renewing its feat: the employees of an Amazon sorting center in New York voted overwhelmingly against the arrival of the organization on their site.

According to a count broadcast online, 618 employees of the warehouse called LDJ5 voted ” Nope “ when asked if they wanted to be represented by ALU, against 380 who voted ” yes “. The participation rate was 61%.

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The organization admitted defeat but warned that it would continue its campaign.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We all know that there are going to be victories and defeats.reacted shortly after the count Christian Smalls, the president of ALU.

“I’m quite upset”

In front of the New York office of the agency responsible for supervising the ballot, the NLRB, the disappointment was displayed on the faces of the ten members of the union present, noted an AFP journalist. A young woman was in tears, several denounced intimidation maneuvers carried out by Amazon as the vote approached.

“I’m quite upset”underlined Michael Aguilar, employee at LDJ5. “Many workers openly said they were against the union (…) but there were also a lot of undecided people”, he explained. They obviously have “was convinced by Amazon’s propaganda” who has “Used all the dirty tricks so we don’t win on another site”.

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ALU had created the surprise at the beginning of April by becoming the company’s first union in the United States, within the JFK8 warehouse in the Staten Island district of New York.

Second largest employer in the United States after the distribution giant Walmart, Amazon had until then succeeded in repelling the desires of employees wishing to regroup in the country since its creation in 1994.

“Return to Fight”

In the wake of its first success, ALU generated excitement, its members claiming to have been contacted by representatives of warehouses across the country.

The organization hoped to score another victory at the LDJ5 sorting center, located opposite JFK8.

US President Joe Biden himself made a strong case for unions in early April, declaring during his speech: “By the way, Amazon, we’re coming…”

At Amazon, every minute counts

But pressure from the company founded by Jeff Bezos was “stronger than the first time”the commissioning company “illegal acts” to counter the union campaign, assured Eric Milner, the lawyer representing ALU, referring in particular to disciplinary measures against unionists.

For Christian Smalls, the difference was mainly due to the fact that the trade unionists leading the campaign at JFK8 had been working there for several years, while those who led the fight at LDJ5 “We’ve only been there a few months”.

Next, the team “will take a break, reassess the situation, regain strength (…) and return to combat”he assured.

The group satisfied

ALU, but also the entire trade union movement, must now find “how to bring the momentum to life” generated by the first victory, Patricia Campos-Medina, co-director of the Institute of Labor at Cornell University, told AFP.

Various big unions have already expressed their willingness to provide logistical and legal support to ALU, and all of these organizations need to coordinate to campaign in multiple warehouses at once, she said.

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Because in the end, it’s only if they manage to score several victories that Amazon “will agree to negotiate”she added.

The group for its part expressed its satisfaction on Monday, and indicated “be eager to continue working directly (with employees)”.

An appeal filed

The company filed an appeal against the result of the vote at JFK8, claiming in particular that members of the ALU had “intimidated” employees and accusing the New York branch of the NLRB of being biased.

An official from another NLRB branch where the case was relocated, in Phoenix, agreed to hold a group objection hearing on May 23.

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Motivated by the attitude of their company during the pandemic, in particular on health protections, and more recently by inflation, several groups of employees in different companies are currently trying to organize themselves.

At Starbucks in particular, in the wake of a first symbolic victory in December, employees of more than 250 cafes have submitted a file for the organization of a vote and more than forty have so far voted for the creation of a union within their establishment.

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