B&H workers vote to unionize

Stephon Johnson | 11/13/2015, 1:06 p.m.
B&H Photo warehouse employees scored a major victory last week after voting to join a union.
B&H Workers Laundry Workers Center

B&H Photo warehouse employees scored a major victory last week after voting to join a union.

In a 200 to 88 vote, workers at two B&H warehouses in Brooklyn have voted in favor of union representation with United Steelworkers via an election oversaw by the National Labor Relations Board.

“We knew we would win our vote today by a large margin, which of course the company did not expect,” said Jorge Lora, a B&H warehouse worker of five years, in a statement. “Today we won because the workers voted with their conscience.”

Late last month, B&H Photo workers announced the desire to unionize in an effort to fight against unsafe working conditions, wage theft and discrimination against Latino employees. Last week, worker representatives said they were threatened with termination.

Workers said they were pulled from their work stations and forced to meet with consultants who demanded information about union campaign leaders. They also said that consultants threatened workers who didn’t speak up. Workers claimed to have recordings of B&H managers screaming at workers who didn’t comply with orders. Lawyers representing B&H employees have filed multiple charges with the NLRB accusing B&H of anti-union activity.

“We want to share this moment with other workers so they also know that they longer have to feel exploited,” said Alberto Sanchez, B&H employee of seven years, in a statement. “We were taught our rights, and now we have to pass that on to other workers so they can fight back against the exploitation and discrimination they face.”

The workers also received support from the Photo/Video Alliance for Fair Labor in the form of an open letter calling for an end to the working conditions and discrimination that B&H warehouse workers have faced. The letter had over 1,000 signatures from people in the world of film, television, academia, journalism and commercial photography.

B&H workers received help from the Laundry Workers Center in setting up their campaign, building support and organizing the groundswell that led to the vote. Rosanna Aran, co-director of the Laundry Workers Center, hopes that workers around the country look to this victory for inspiration.

“After a year of hard work organizing, today the workers are victorious,” said Aran in a statement. “This is a huge step for the workers’ movement and for the Laundry Workers Center, as it continues to develop worker power and leadership in New York City and beyond.”