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Workers at New York City Amazon warehouse file petition to hold union election

Amazon Labor Union
Posted at 11:16 AM, Oct 26, 2021

Workers at a New York City Amazon warehouse took the first step toward forming a labor union on Monday.

According to ABC News and NPR, organizers who work at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island filed a petition for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

NPR reports that organizers were able to garner the 2,000 employee signatures needed to file for an election. The NLRB and officials within its Region 29 division will now go through the formal representation process before a vote is held, according to ABC News.

Should the group, which calls itself the Amazon Labor Union, be successful in its vote to form a union, it would mark the first time Amazon warehouse employees have successfully unionized across the country. However, the workers face an uphill battle.

Amazon has successfully fought off several other unionization attempts, most notably at an Alabama warehouse earlier this year. In April, employees at the Bessemer, Alabama, warehouses voted 1,798 to 738 against unionization.

However, an NLRB official in August recommended that a new vote take place after determining that Amazon violated labor laws during the voting process. Workers at the Alabama warehouse are still awaiting an official ruling from the NLRB as to whether they can hold another vote.

Unlike the Alabama unionization push, which was led by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the Staten Island push is an independent effort.

"We're completely independent, worker-led through and through, grassroots," organizer Chris Smalls told ABC News. "We're just trying to navigate our way — we think we know the ins-and-outs of the company better than a third party or an established union."

Amazon told ABC News that they were skeptical that the workers had obtained enough signatures to force an election. A spokesperson added that should an election be held, "we want the voice of our employees to be heard and look forward to it. Our focus remains on listening directly to our employees and continuously improving on their behalf."

Amazon — which has become one of America's largest employers in recent years — has long faced accusations of mistreating warehouse workers. Former employees have claimed the company forces laborers to work grueling hours with few breaks to rest or use the bathroom, claims Amazon denies.