New Push for Union Vote at Staten Island Amazon Warehouse

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Labor organizers at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island said they had submitted more than 2,500 worker signatures to the National Labor Relations Board in a petition to hold a union election.

Kayla Blado, the press secretary for the agency, confirmed that the group had filed the petition.

The effort is being organized by current and former Amazon workers aiming to form a new independent union, called the Amazon Labor Union. It focuses on Amazon’s only fulfillment center in New York City, known as JFK8, which employs more than 5,000 people.

Amazon Labor Union had initially filed for an election in October at JFK8 and three nearby Amazon buildings, but it withdrew the petition several weeks later after organizers said the labor board told them they did not have enough signatures of current employees to proceed. The New York Times reported that turnover at the company was about 150 percent a year even before the pandemic increased attrition.

By now focusing just on JFK8, “we are taking a different approach,” said Christian Smalls, a former Amazon worker who is leading the effort. “We are hoping that not only do we have more than enough, but we have more than enough that are still employed.”

Petitions need at least 30 percent of workers to demonstrate sufficient interest in holding an election, though typically unions file with far more.

Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for Amazon, said in a statement that the company’s “focus remains on listening directly to our employees and continuously improving on their behalf.” She said Amazon continued to doubt the organizers had enough signatures to merit an election.

Separately, the labor board in November threw out the results of a failed union election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama. The agency said Amazon inappropriately interfered with the election and ordered the vote to be reheld next year. Amazon has not appealed the decision, though it can still do so.

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