The election, held last week at the Staten Island sorting facility known as LDJ5 and the votes of which were counted Monday, was the second to be organized by the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), a newly established union, started by a local group of Amazon warehouse workers and led by a fired employee.
A public tally of the vote, held Monday at the National Labor Relation Board’s Brooklyn office and broadcast over Zoom, heavily favored not unionizing. There were 618 votes against unionizing and 380 in favor. Out of approximately 1,633 eligible voters, 998 votes were counted. There were no challenged ballots. Two ballots were voided.
In a statement, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said the company is “glad that our team at LDJ5 were able to have their voices heard. We look forward to continuing to work directly together as we strive to make every day better for our employees.”
Both parties have five business days to file any objections.
The LDJ5 election drew significant attention from prominent labor leaders, including Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who rallied with Amazon workers on Staten Island a day before the election started.
The ALU’s unlikely success in its first election at Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse, which employs more than 8,000 workers and is also located on Staten Island, is viewed as a milestone event with potential broader implications for Amazon’s sprawling network of facilities. The win quickly drew praise from advocacy groups, established labor unions and the White House.
According to John Logan, a professor of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University, the results are no doubt a disappointment for the union. “If it had won, things could have solidified for the union in a big way,” he said. But the stakes were higher for Amazon, Logan argued.
“A second defeat could have proved fatal to the company’s efforts to stop the organizing from spreading like wildfire, just as it has done at Starbucks,” he said.
He added that ALU “will continue to organize and so should all of you”
“All the issues are the same. Of course there are differences between the buildings, but we need the union at JFK8. We need the union at LDJ5. We need the union at all Amazon warehouses all across the world,” said ALU’s treasurer and LDJ5 employee, Madeline Wesley, at a union rally ahead of the LDJ5 election. “This is just the beginning.”
As ALU organizers focused on rallying support for the vote at the JFK8 election, Amazon was messaging its stance on unionizing to workers inside LDJ5, several workers told CNN Business last week at the rally ahead of the election. After the JFK8 result, the ALU’s attention turned to LDJ5.
Justine Medina, a JFK8 warehouse worker and ALU organizer, told CNN Business last week that due to the smaller size of LDJ5, Amazon’s efforts may have been more effective. “It is just so much more intense,” said Medina.
LDJ5 worker Andrew Perez told CNN Business last week that he was pulled into required meetings in recent weeks where company representatives offered their stance on unions, including harping on union dues. Perez said at the time he anticipated the election results would be close.
In recent weeks, there have been a number of new developments and attention paid to Amazon’s treatment of, and relationship to, its warehouse workforce.
And in a win for the ALU, an NLRB administrative law judge found that Amazon had violated labor law in its firing of a JFK8 employee named Gerald Bryson, who is an ALU organizer. Bryson, like Smalls, was fired by Amazon in March 2020 after protesting pandemic-related workplace safety precautions. While Amazon has denied retaliating against Bryson, the judge ordered Bryson be reinstated and paid his lost wages. (In a statement, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said, “we strongly disagree with the NLRB judge’s ruling,” and that it plans to appeal.)