In a first for the company, an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island has voted to unionize their workplace, beginning the formal process that would lead to collective bargaining and a union contract. The union election was held on Friday, April 1, where a majority of the employees at the warehouse voted to unionize. This is seen as a major victory for organizers, who had spent years trying to form a union at the location, despite serious efforts by Amazon to impede the process.
Amazon and Unionization Efforts
Amazon, the second largest private employer in the United States, has long fought efforts to unionize its warehouses and other workplaces. In that process, it has spent millions of dollars fighting efforts to organize unions, including engaging in a number of legally questionable tactics to convince employees not to join with labor organizers. This victory presents the first time in the company’s history that its union busting efforts had failed to stop the successful vote to unionize a workplace.
Unionizing the Staten Island Warehouse
This particular warehouse had attracted a significant amount of attention due to the work of Christian Smalls, a former employee who was fired after protesting working conditions at that warehouse during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since being fired, he dedicated his time and energy to promoting unionization, and convincing others to join in his efforts. Notably, he did this in a seemingly grassroots manner, without the aid of a larger existing union like the AFL-CIO.
The Potential Impact of the Union Election
With the election now over, labor organizers will begin the process of negotiating with Amazon’s owners to form a union contract. This process could easily take months or years, depending on how much the company attempts to delay. At the end of the process, however, workers could benefit greatly, with contractually guaranteed pay, more benefits, and protections against arbitrary dismissal. What they get, however, will depend on the terms of whatever contract is ultimately negotiated.
Amazon Vows to Push Back
Unsurprisingly, Amazon has not taken the results of the election well. After their loss, they vowed to continue fighting against unionization, and said they would explore what further steps they could take to prevent the process from going forward. In their statement on the election, they particularly noted what they considered the “inappropriate and undue influence” by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency responsible for overseeing labor elections. Whatever steps they take, however, it is clear that they do not view this as the end of the battle at the Staten Island warehouse.
If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 41 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.