Vote counting begins in 2nd Amazon union election in New York

A federal labor commission will count ballots cast by warehouse workers in a second Amazon union election in Staten Island on Monday.

A separate election held last month gave a nascent group of organizers known as the Amazon Labor Union a surprise victory when workers at another Staten Island facility voted to unionize. It was a first for Amazon in the United States.

But it’s unclear if the ALU can replicate their success. There are fewer workers eligible to vote this time around – around 1,500 compared to 8,300 – and turnover in the establishment is high. There are also fewer organizers involved in the last election than in the previous one.

The same obstacles that hampered the effort the first time around, including Amazon’s aggressive union-busting tactics, are again in play. In the run-up to the election, Amazon has continued to hold mandatory meetings to persuade its workers to reject the union effort, published anti-union leaflets and launched a website urging workers to “vote NO”.

“At this time, the ALU is trying to interfere in our relationship with you,” the website reads. “They think they can do a better job defending for you than you do for yourself.”

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement that its employees have a choice whether or not to join a union. But “as a company, we don’t think unions are the best answer for our employees,” Nantel said. “Our goal remains to work directly with our team to continue to make Amazon a great place to work.”

A second labor victory could give workers at other Amazon facilities — and other companies — the motivation they need to launch similar efforts. It could also cement the power and influence of the ALU.

However, a union loss could stifle some of the recent labor celebration and raise questions about whether the first win was just a fluke.

Whatever the result, the road will be difficult for the ALU. Amazon challenged the first election, arguing in a filing with the NLRB that the vote was tainted by organizers and the council’s Brooklyn regional office that oversaw the election. The company says it wants a new election, but pro-union pundits believe it is an effort to delay contract talks and potentially blunt some of the organizing momentum.

Meanwhile, the final result of a separate union election in Bessemer, Alabama is still up in the air with 416 outstanding disputed ballots pending. Hearings to review those ballots are expected to begin in the coming weeks.

ABC News

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