Amazon workers in the North and in the South have seen daylight in the fight to unionize.
A number of Amazon workers (JFK8) on the company’s Staten Island compound filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board requesting a union vote. JFK8 workers collected enough signatures to hold a union vote. A hearing is set for Feb. 16 to decide how and when a vote will take place.
This comes a week after the NLRB approved of a previous Staten Island warehouse’s ability to hold a union vote.
Responding to a VICE reporter on Twitter the union said: “This is an amazing moment in history, seeing Amazon workers finally taking the brave steps to make their voices heard.”
According to the NLRB, the petition met all of the requirements needed to organize a vote. NLRB spokesperson Kayla Blado stated, “When the union files an election petition with an NLRB regional office, they have to submit a ‘showing of interest’ of signed union cards from at least 30% of the petitioned-for bargaining unit. The regional office then counts the cards to make sure the union has met the showing of interest requirement.”
She then directed the AmNews to the NLRB’s website explaining the election process.
Amazon took a different approach in their response.
While they didn’t respond to the AmNews’ requests, in a statement sent to The Verge, an Amazon spokesperson said they were “seeking to understand how these signatures were verified. Our employees have always had a choice of whether or not to join a union, and as we saw just a few months ago, the vast majority of our team in Staten Island did not support the ALU.”
Last November, Amazon workers on Staten Island withdrew their petition to unionize less than a few weeks before a hearing that would prove how many workers wanted to vote. It was, allegedly, canceled because they didn’t make it to the 30% threshold.
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union head Stuart Appelbaum said that Staten Island needed to look South for inspiration.
“People all over the world, people like in Bessemer, Alabama [and] people in Staten Island, and people in Europe and elsewhere in the world are all complaining about the same sorts of things,” said Appelbaum at the time. “And that’s why there is high turnover at every Amazon warehouse.”
Appelbaum was speaking about Amazon workers at a fulfillment center in Alabama that will get a second crack at a vote with the NLRB having sent out ballots last Friday. This comes after the agency said that the retail giant had interfered in the outcome of the previous election. Appelbaum said election results could have been available now if it weren’t for several maneuvers.
“Amazon’s misconduct during the first union election so tainted the outcome that the NLRB overturned the results and directed a second election for workers in Bessemer, Alabama,” stated Appelbaum in January. “We are deeply concerned that the decision fails to adequately prevent Amazon from continuing its objectionable behavior in a new election. We proposed to the NLRB a number of remedies that could have made the process fairer to workers, which were not taken up in the Notice of Election issued today.
“Workers’ voices can and must be heard fairly, unencumbered by Amazon’s limitless power to control what must be a fair and free election, and we will continue to hold them accountable for their actions.”
The election runs through March 25.