Amazon Workers Vote ‘No’ for Unionisation at Albany Facility

Amazon Workers Vote ‘No’ for Unionisation at Albany Facility

Another New York-based Amazon facility rejected calls for unionisation Tuesday, showing just how hard it is for organised labour to make headway in today’s polarised environment, as well as how effective Amazon’s anti-union activities have become.

During a vote that took place Tuesday morning, the final vote tally ended with 406 ALB1 workers voting against unionization compared to 206 who voted for. There were 31 challenged ballots and four voided ballots, but none of those could have caused enough of a swing in either direction. There were 949 staff eligible for the vote at ALB1.

Amazon did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment, but it told other outlets the company was glad that its Albany team “chose to keep the direct relationship with Amazon as we think that this is the best arrangement for both our employees and customers. We will continue to work directly with our teammates in Albany, as we do everywhere, to keep making Amazon better every day.”

The Amazon Labour Union-affiliated block of workers was led by Heather Goodall, a facility worker who along with her fellow fulfilment staff demanded better wages and PTO policy as well as safer working conditions. She told local reporters that she was “proud of the great job we’ve done here.”

Goodall has alleged in leaked interviews that on the same day her coterie signalled the union vote was imminent she received a written warning for taking photos of supposed safety violations. She further claimed she was denied representation in a disciplinary hearing.

Goodall has claimed there were a lack of fire extinguishers at the facility near Albany, New York that just earlier this month suffered a late night fire. Those night-shift employees were sent home with pay and Amazon cancelled the subsequent day shift. A similar fire started from a cardboard compactor at the unionized JFK8 Staten Island facility and had a much different outcome. ALU organisers said that in that case, while night workers were sent home with pay, the day shift was still required to come in. The company then suspended at least 50 warehouse workers who refused to work that day shift.

Amazon did not immediately respond to questions about Goodall’s claims.

The monolithic online retail giant that is Amazon has become utterly renowned for its strong-arm tactics against any hint of unionization at its facilities. Amazon has issued thousands of disciplinary notices at the JFK8 warehouse in just one year and other reports have noted just how hard Amazon presses its warehouse workers to meet their massive quotas.

ALU President Christian Smalls alleged Amazon used “intimidation and retaliation on a daily basis” in the lead-up to the ALB1 vote. ALU’s pro-bono attorney Seth Goldstein has also alleged Amazon illegally threatened election observers at the facility. As much as these statements remain mere accusations, they do seem consistent with Amazon’s past activity. Documents with the U.S. Department of Labour have shown Amazon paying tens of thousands of dollars for union-busting efforts, much of it illegal.

Despite its historic victory at Amazon’s Staten Island JFK8 warehouse in April, the Amazon Labour Union has struggled to claim a foothold in other warehouses and business centres in and around New York. ALU organisers were defeated by similar margins in May at the LDJ5 warehouse despite open support from pro-union politicians like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Smalls has already promoted their next big campaign for unionization at the ONT8 warehouse located in Moreno Valley, California serving part of the Los Angeles region. There are more than 2,300 employees at the facility, according to Bloomberg which cited the company. Fulfilment workers at that warehouse made it clear last week they would be looking to hold a vote for an 800-member bargaining unit, which requires the National Labour Relations Board to receive confirmed cards from at least 30% of those supposed members.

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