Amazon Workers Vote Overwhelmingly to Reject Union Bid in Upstate New York

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
October 18, 2022Businessshare
Amazon Workers Vote Overwhelmingly to Reject Union Bid in Upstate New York
Christian Smalls, President of the ALU, speaks as pro-union protestors gather for a rally near the home of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Fifth Avenue in New York on Sept. 5, 2022. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Amazon warehouse workers near Albany, New York, voted overwhelmingly against forming a union by almost a 2–1 margin, delivering a blow to the fledgling labor movement trying to build momentum at one of America’s biggest employers.

Workers at Amazon’s ALB1 warehouse in the town of Schodack cast 206 votes “for” and 406 votes “against” joining a local offshoot of the nascent Amazon Labor Union (ALU), according to the National Labor Relations Board.

ALU President Chris Smalls downplayed the defeat, vowing to continue unionization efforts at the facility.

“Proud of the brave workers of ALB1 regardless of todays results taking on a trillion-dollar company can never be a loss for workers. We will continue to empower all workers to give them the right to unionize. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take!” Smalls said in a statement on social media.

Smalls alleged in a statement obtained by The Epoch Times that the voting process “wasn’t free and fair” and that it was a “sham election,” with Amazon allegedly intimidating workers and threatening them with termination.

“The suits at Amazon corporate know that they can’t win without putting their thumb on the scale,” Smalls said.

Amazon responded to a request for comment by saying the process gave workers a chance to get their point across and that the company looks forward to “direct” interactions with staff as opposed to through a union.

“We’re glad that our team in Albany was able to have their voices heard, and that they chose to keep the direct relationship with Amazon as we think that this is the best arrangement for both our employees and customers,” Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

“We will continue to work directly with our teammates in Albany, as we do everywhere, to keep making Amazon better every day,” she added.

The ALU filed 27 charges of illegal conduct on the part of Amazon, including threatening to fire workers who planned to serve as election observers, according to an ALU statement obtained by ABC.

In a statement obtained by The Epoch Times, the ALU said it was seeking to unionize at the ALB1 facility because “Amazon is a company with deeply rooted issues, and management always prioritizes profits over people” and that the workers deserve a “seat at the table.”

Amazon told The Wall Street Journal that workers at the Schodack warehouse make a base pay of around $17 an hour. Union leaders at the ALB1 facility said that’s not enough.

“We want $27, not $17,” the group said in a post on Twitter in late September.

The company recently announced pay increases for its frontline staff in the United States, for which Amazon has earmarked $1 billion over the next year. Amazon also announced more investments in employee career-development programs, bringing the total investment in benefits to nearly $10 billion in 2022.

The vote at the Schodack facility was the fourth union election at an Amazon warehouse this year, and the third one led by the ALU.

The group scored surprise win in April at an Amazon warehouse in the New York City borough of Staten Island, but later faced a defeat at another facility nearby.

Amazon responded to the Staten Island union win with a statement expressing disappointment.

“We’re disappointed with the outcome of the election in Staten Island because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees,” Amazon said.

Amazon is the second-largest private employer in the United States, just behind Walmart.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times