The startup union that won a historic labor victory at Amazon earlier this year is set to go up against the company again.
This is an attempt to rack up more victories that will force the hesitant retail behemoth to the negotiating table.
This time, the Amazon Labor Union and the nation’s second-largest private employer are clashing in Schodack, New York, near Albany.
Workers at the warehouse, which employs approximately 800 people, will finish voting in a union election on Monday, October 24.
The National Labor Relations Board will count the votes on Tuesday, October 25.
“There are also a lot of odds against us, but I think there’s definitely a huge possibility we might win,” said Sarah Chaudhry, an 18-year-old who’s been organizing workers since joining the company two months ago. “I can’t jinx it.”
The confrontation near the state capital — one of the most unionized metro areas in the country, according to Unionstats.com — is the ALU’s third against Amazon, following its initial victory at a Staten Island facility in April.
That victory, the first for an Amazon facility in the United States, surprised even those who supported the union’s demands for a $30 hourly wage and better working conditions for warehouse workers.
However, difficulties soon appeared.
In May, a fire at a nearby warehouse took some of the wind out of the union’s sails. Some prominent organizers left the group, exposing cracks.
Elsewhere, the union wasted time and resources attempting to solidify its lone victory.
Amazon has accused the ALU and the NLRB’s Brooklyn field office of tainting the vote.
In its pursuit of a redo election, the company filed more than two dozen objections with the agency, triggering a lengthy process that could last years.
A federal labor official who presided over the hearings ruled against the company last month, and the company has stated that it intends to appeal.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy hinted last month that the retail giant might take the case to federal court.
John Logan, the director of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University said: “Amazon is ready to fight this to the death,” “And the problem for the Amazon Labor Union is if you only have one warehouse … you’re never going to have enough leverage to force the company to bargain.”
The election in Albany offers the ALU a chance to show its win isn’t a one-off, experts say.
Heather Goodall, the warehouse’s main worker organizer, launched the campaign in May, three months after joining the company and a month after the Staten Island victory.
Her desire to unionize stemmed from the death of her son, who committed suicide six years ago while working for a large corporation.
Amazon launched its own campaign, as it had done with other warehouses, to delay the organizing effort.
In an attempt to persuade workers to reject the union, the company held mandatory meetings at the Schodack facility.
It also put up flyers and signs across the warehouse urging workers to “vote no.”
“Don’t sign an ALU card,” the company said on one sign posted on a screen at the facility. “The ALU is untested and unproven.”
Paul Flaningan, an Amazon spokesperson, said: “We’ve always said that we want our employees to have their voices heard, and we hope and expect this process allows for that,”
Amazon employees at a separate facility in Moreno Valley, California, filed for their own union election last week, seeking to join the ALU.
Nannette Plascencia, who has worked at the warehouse for seven years, said she and her colleagues have been attempting to organize the facility for more than two years, but the company’s notoriously high turnover rate has made gaining enough support difficult.
Another election held at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, by the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, is still too close to call, with 416 challenged ballots awaiting adjudication.
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The vote, held this spring, was the union’s second attempt to manage there, following a loss that it contested previously.
Amazon warehouse workers in Garner, North Carolina, a Raleigh suburb, have been arranging for months and plan to file for an election by the end of summer next year, according to Tim Platt, an Amazon employee who has been soliciting support for the campaign through a group called Carolina Amazonians United for Solidarity and Empowerment, or CAUSE.
Mendoza, ALU’s director of communications, stated that the union is attempting to assist other workers across the country in forming their own organizing committees. Their main task, however, will be to file their own election petitions and rally more support at the facility that voted to unionize in case it is required.
Source: NBC New York