Tech

Amazon union victory at Staten Island warehouse upheld by federal labor board

Key Points
  • A federal labor official on Wednesday upheld the results of a historic union election at Amazon's Staten Island warehouse.
  • In April, workers at the 8,000-plus-employee Amazon facility voted in favor of joining the Amazon Labor Union.
  • Amazon said it intends to appeal the National Labor Relations Board's ruling.

In this article

Amazon workers arrive with paperwork to unionize at the NLRB office in Brooklyn, New York, October 25, 2021.
Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

A federal labor agency on Wednesday certified an independent union's landmark victory at Amazon's Staten Island warehouse and threw out a litany of objections filed by the e-retailer.

In April, a majority of the roughly 8,300 workers at Amazon's Staten Island warehouse, known as JFK8, voted to join the Amazon Labor Union, becoming the company's first unionized facility in the U.S. Amazon sought to overturn the results of the election, alleging the National Labor Relations Board office that oversaw the election interfered in the union drive. Amazon also claimed that the ALU intimidated workers to vote in their favor.

In a filing Wednesday, Cornele Overstreet, a director of the NLRB's Phoenix-based office, said he agreed with a federal labor official's prior ruling that all of Amazon's objections should be dismissed.

Under U.S. labor law, employers are obligated to begin negotiating in good faith with a union after it wins an election and the results are certified. But the process can be beset with delays, as the employer may seek to avoid signing a first contract and both parties hammer out the details of an agreement. According to an analysis by Bloomberg Law, it takes on average 465 days for collective bargaining agreements to be signed between employers and their newly unionized workers.

Amazon can also contest the ruling to the NLRB's board in Washington. Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement that the company intends to appeal the results.

"As we've said since the beginning, we don't believe this election process was fair, legitimate, or representative of the majority of what our team wants," Nantel said.

Speaking at the New York Times' DealBook Summit late last year, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said there were "a lot of irregularities" in the union drive, and that the legal process is "far from over."

"I think that it's going to work its way through the NLRB," Jassy said. "It's probably unlikely the NLRB is going to rule against itself, and that has a real chance to end up in federal court."

ALU interim President Chris Smalls wrote in a tweet that the union "beat Amazon fair and square," and called upon Jassy to "come to the table" to sign a contract.

The ALU has struggled to replicate its success after workers voted to join the union at JFK8. Workers at a nearby facility on Staten Island rejected unionization in May, and the ALU lost an election at an Albany warehouse in October.

WATCH: How two friends formed Amazon's first U.S. union and what's next

How two friends formed Amazon's first U.S. union and what's next
VIDEO18:4818:48
How two friends formed Amazon's first U.S. union and what's next