Amazon work Union, which made history in April by unionizing Amazon’s first U.S. warehouse, lost its latest campaign today at a facility in Shodak, New York. Workers voted 406 to 206 against unionization, marking the second loss of three unionized ALU companies at Amazon warehouses.
The result was a setback for workers who want more say at Amazon, which is a staunch opponent of unionization and has spent months challenging Staten Island’s only successful company.
“We are proud of the brave workers in upstate New York who stood up to a vicious anti-union campaign to challenge a trillion-dollar corporation,” ALU President Chris Smalls wrote in a statement, saying the union would continue to organize in Shodak. He argued that the vote was unfair because Amazon intimidated workers on a daily basis to prevent unions from winning.
Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel welcomed the result in a statement today. “We are pleased that our team in Albany was able to hear their voices and that they chose to maintain a direct relationship with Amazon as we believe this is the best arrangement for both our employees and customers,” she wrote.
Today’s vote brings to four the number of Amazon warehouses that have tried to merge. After winning the first election at Staten Island’s JFK8 warehouse in April, ALU lost the second election at a smaller warehouse across the street. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores union held a runoff election this year to represent workers in Bessemer, Ala., but the outcome remains too close to call.
The union defeat at the ALB1 warehouse in Shaddock, near Albany, follows a week of labor unrest at Amazon, which coincided with last week’s Prime Early Access Sale. Workers at two businesses in Georgia and two in Illinois have walked out on demands ranging from higher wages to protections from injuries and sexual harassment. That same day, workers in Moreno Valley, which is part of California’s Inland Empire logistics hub, filed for the first ALU election in California. Three days later, workers at a nearby Amazon airline in San Bernardino went on strike to demand higher wages and better working conditions.
Today’s defeat of the campaign is rooted in the personal story of lead organizer Heather Goodall. In February, she took a job picking and packing items for shipment to ALB1, trying to find out if the news she’d read about Amazon’s harsh working conditions were true. Her interest in working conditions arose after one of her sons took his own life, one of a series of suicides and murder-suicides by employees at chipmaker GlobalFoundries that she believed were linked to poor working conditions. (GlobalFoundries has said that employee health and safety is a priority and that it is offering 24-hour counseling.)
Goodall soon concluded that the rumors about Amazon’s harsh working conditions were true. She witnessed injuries, high turnover and signs telling workers, “No Covid pay. No excuses” in violation of state law, she says. An ambulance is a common sight outside the warehouse, Goodall says, and one once came for her after she had a heart attack during a shift. “When you see it daily or weekly, it becomes normalized and people stop questioning it,” she says.