Tech

Amazon workers at second Staten Island warehouse reject union

Key Points
  • Employees at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island voted rejected unionizing.
  • The tally was 380 votes in favor of joining the union and 618 opposed.
  • The decision comes just a month after a neighboring Amazon warehouse, known as JFK8, voted in favor of the company's first U.S. union.

In this article

Amazon Labor Union organizers hold signs outside of the LDJ5 Amazon Sort Center on April 25, 2022 in New York City.
Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Employees at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island overwhelmingly rejected a unionization effort on Monday, a significant victory for the e-retailer a month after a nearby fulfillment center became the first in the country to vote to join a union.

The tally was 380 votes in favor of the union and 618 opposed. Officials said 1,633 workers at the LDJ5 warehouse were eligible to vote on whether they should become part of the Amazon Labor Union. Two ballots were voided. The results still need to be formally certified by the National Labor Relations Board.

Seth Goldstein, an attorney who has represented the ALU on a pro bono basis, told CNBC the labor union plans to challenge the outcome of the election.

Amazon is facing a growing wave of labor organization efforts as workers seek higher pay and better treatment at the company's massive warehouses around the country. In early April, staffers at a Staten Island facility known as JFK8 voted in support of the company's first U.S. union, despite a high-priced opposition campaign by Amazon.

The ALU called for all LDJ5 workers to receive at least $30 an hour. The average hourly starting pay at U.S. fulfillment centers is $18 an hour, according to Amazon. The union also sought longer breaks and improved benefits, along with other demands.

Amazon has been steadfast and aggressive in trying to discourage employees from organizing. Ahead of the vote, the e-commerce giant held mandatory meetings at LDJ5, where employees were required to sit through anti-union presentations and hired an influential Democratic pollster to assist with its campaign at both Staten Island warehouses as well as others.

"We're glad that our team at LDJ5 were able to have their voices heard," Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, told CNBC in an emailed statement. "We look forward to continuing to work directly together as we strive to make every day better for our employees."

Worker activism across the U.S. has surged since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country in early 2020. The strained labor market further galvanized support for unionization, and workers have seized the moment to demand higher wages and improved benefits.

The ALU, led by former JFK8 manager Christian Smalls, began after Smalls was fired by Amazon for allegedly violating social distancing rules. Smalls said he was fired in retaliation for staging a protest in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic to call for stronger safety measures.

LDJ5 is a much smaller facility than JFK8, which employs about 6,000 people and is the largest Amazon fulfillment center in New York. At LDJ5, primarily part-time workers prepare packages for delivery.

Labor organizers last suffered a defeat in March, when Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, appeared to have voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. However, the election remains too close to call and hinges on several hundred challenged ballots. As is, the spread narrowed from the first election last year, the results of which were tossed out after the NLRB found illegal interference by Amazon.

Before the pandemic, the last substantial union vote at a U.S. Amazon facility took place at a Delaware warehouse in 2014. A group of repair technicians voted 21 to six against joining the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

WATCH: Amazon CEO Andy Jassy says employees better off not joining a union

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Amazon CEO Andy Jassy: Employees are better off not joining a union