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Amazon’s New York department store becomes the first in the US to unionize

Amazon workers at a warehouse in New York’s Staten Island neighborhood became the Seattle-based web giant’s first unionized US workers after winning a historic vote on Friday.

National Labor Relations Board officials said the vote yielded 2,654 votes in favor and 2,131 against unionization.

The Amazon Labor Union’s victory came even though the group is not affiliated with a major union coalition like the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which supports Amazon’s unionization efforts in Bessemer, Alabama.

Instead, the organizing group has remained completely independent since its inception last year.

About 8,300 people work at the Staten Island warehouse known as JFK8. Less than 5,000 voted in the union election.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the finding.

Amazon JFK8
Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island employs about 7,500 people.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The union’s victory comes after years of devastating, protracted battles between Amazon and activists.

In Staten Island, Amazon held mandatory anti-union meetings with JFK8 employees — and showered them with letters and online ads urging them to vote against the effort.

“If you know, you choose NO,” read one of Amazon’s Facebook and Instagram ads.

jeff bezos
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – here with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez – is worth an estimated $191 billion.

Amazon also hired Global Strategy Group, a Democratic Party-affiliated PR firm with close ties to disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo, to bombard employees with anti-union messages, CNBC reported Thursday.

And when the head of the Amazon Labor Union, ex-Amazon employee Chris Smalls, walked into a break room at JFK8 to give employees food in February, Amazon called the police and had him arrested for trespassing, Reuters reported.

Company executives also plotted to smear Smalls, and in 2020 held a strategy meeting attended by founder and then-CEO Jeff Bezos, at which they called him “not smart or articulate,” Vice reported.

But Smalls had the last laugh, popping champagne and declaring victory Friday outside the NLRB office in Brooklyn.

“We worked, had fun, and made history,” Smalls wrote on Twitter. “Hello the first union in America for Amazon.”

Another Staten Island Amazon store, LDJ5, is scheduled to hold union elections beginning April 25.

AmazonUnion
Amazon showered employees with anti-union messages.
Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

On Thursday, labor officials said a separate union vote at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, was likely to be decided by 416 contested ballots in the coming days. At the conclusion of Thursday’s first count, 993 votes had been cast against unionization and 875 for unionization.

Since the lead lost by the Bessemer union is no greater than the number of contested ballots, the final decision will depend on the contested ballots.

This year’s Bessemer election appears to be a much closer battle than last year’s vote, in which union activists lost two to one. Federal labor officials ordered snap elections after finding Amazon had interfered in the voting process.

A separate union election at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, is expected to result in 416 contested ballots.
A separate union election at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, is expected to result in 416 contested ballots.
AFP via Getty Images

Amazon isn’t the only big U.S. company to face a labor surge in recent months. More than 160 Starbucks locations across the country have petitioned to organize — and nine stores have successfully voted to unionize since December, according to NLRB data.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/01/amazons-nyc-warehouse-set-to-become-first-in-us-to-unionize/ Amazon’s New York department store becomes the first in the US to unionize

JACLYN DIAZ

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