A federal labor official has upheld the unionization of
workers in Staten Island, N.Y., rejecting an appeal by the e-commerce giant, which tried to challenge last year’s vote to organize.
Cornele Overstreet, a regional director with the National Labor Relations Board who has overseen the case, ruled on Wednesday that Amazon hadn’t provided sufficient evidence to overturn the election results, according to an NLRB spokeswoman.
The company has said the union intimidated employees and used other inappropriate methods to sway voters. Workers from the Staten Island warehouse voted to form the company’s first U.S. union last April.
In a written statement, an Amazon spokeswoman said the company will appeal the decision, and that it doesn’t believe the election process “was fair, legitimate, or representative of the majority of what our team wants.”
Chris Smalls, president of the union, named Amazon Labor Union, said in a tweet that the time has come for Amazon to sign a union contract with workers.
In his ruling, Mr. Overstreet said he agreed with a recommendation from of a hearing officer in September who said the company hadn’t met the burden of proof required to overturn election results or have the vote to be held again. Amazon and union organizers participated in a weekslong testimony about the election before the hearing officer’s recommendation. Mr. Overstreet’s ruling means Amazon must start to bargain with the union over a contract, the NLRB spokeswoman said.
Amazon has said both the union and NLRB regional office that oversaw the vote created an unfair playing field for the election. It has said union organizers threatened employees to vote in favor of the union, trespassed on its property and took other questionable actions to influence the voting. It also took issue with legal actions the NLRB made against the company during the election that accused it of unlawfully firing a Staten Island worker. The Staten Island election case moved to a different NLRB region after Amazon’s appeal.
Amazon Labor Union has previously said Amazon’s appeal was a stalling tactic to avoid bargaining with workers on a contract. Mr. Overstreet’s ruling against Amazon means the union is certified as the representative for workers at the Staten Island warehouse.
Amazon can contest Mr. Overstreet’s ruling to the NLRB governing board in Washington, D.C. The company could eventually bring the case to court, labor attorneys say.
Amazon’s chief executive officer, last year said he believed the case is “going to take a long time to play out.”
The vote to establish the first union inside Amazon in the U.S. provided a watershed moment for labor activists who had long targeted Amazon as a company ripe for organizing.
The union has had more difficulty organizing outside of Staten Island, as Amazon spent millions countering its efforts. The Amazon Labor Union lost in two other elections in New York state. A majority of workers at a company site in Bessemer, Ala., also voted against unionizing.
Workers have continued to protest against the company, with employees at several facilities striking in recent months. In November, a federal judge ordered Amazon to “cease and desist” from retaliating against workers organizing at the Staten Island facility that unionized. Amazon last year fired some employees at the site following the vote. The company said those firings happened after it evaluated operations and leadership there.
Write to Sebastian Herrera at email@example.com
Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
Appeared in the January 12, 2023, print edition as ‘Union Bid at Amazon Is Upheld.’
Leave a Reply