The left really brought out the big guns in the campaign to unionize an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island but those efforts have failed:
Amazon warehouse workers rejected a union bid on Monday, dealing a blow to organizers who last month pulled off the first successful U.S. organizing effort in the retail giant’s history.
Votes were still being tabulated, but ballots cast against the union were enough to fend off a second win for the nascent Amazon Labor Union, a group of former and current Amazon workers leading the organizing effort.
Ballots that were challenged by either Amazon or the ALU were not enough to sway the outcome.
The ALU won a union vote at another warehouse on Staten Island about a month ago. That was considered cause for celebration on the left because, as one academic explained, Amazon is widely considered the biggest prize in union organizing.
John Logan, director of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University, said the union win was a potential tipping point two years into a pandemic that has shifted the labor landscape.
“We knew that unions were having a moment, but this is much bigger,” Logan said “There is no bigger prize than organizing Amazon.”
He added that the ALU’s win defies traditional thinking that only national unions can take on big companies. But the group might still have a fight ahead of it, according to Erin Hatton, a sociology professor at the University of Buffalo in New York.
“Getting Amazon to the bargaining table will be another feat all together,” Hatton said. “Oftentimes the union will fizzle out because the company doesn’t come to the bargaining table in good faith as they’re obliged to do.”
Amazon has already challenged the results of that previous election which meant the current election was seen as a chance for the fledgling union to either gain some momentum or lose some.
A second labor win could give workers in other Amazon facilities — and at other companies — the motivation they need to launch similar efforts. It could also cement the power and influence of the Amazon Labor Union, the grassroots group of former and current workers that secured last month’s historic victory.
But a union loss could mute some of the labor celebration and raise questions about whether the first victory was just a fluke.
And that’s why the biggest names in American socialism were out campaigning for the union. Here’s AOC working up a crowd last week.
.@AOC to Jeff Bezos: "If you can go to space, you can give our [Amazon] workers a bathroom break. If you go to space, you can make sure you're treating people well and giving them solid health care benefits." https://t.co/7txJQffFCH pic.twitter.com/1bipuvPThL
— The Hill (@thehill) April 25, 2022
And of course rallying against billionaires is really the core of Bernie Sanders’s political outlook:
@BernieSanders and @AOC speak at an Amazon Labor Union Rally outside the LDJ5 warehouse ahead of the second #Amazon union election vote
“You have taken on one of the most powerful corporations in America. They spent millions trying to defeat you, and you beat them!” pic.twitter.com/O54AGeMA4T
— Karla (@KarlaCotePhoto) April 24, 2022
Over at Democratic Socialist news site Jacobin, the event was described as “electric.”
After two years of unrelenting working-class defeats and demoralization, hope was back in the air in Staten Island on Sunday as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), and a slew of national labor leaders rallied in support of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU).
Less than a month after workers shocked the world by making JKF8 the United States’ first unionized Amazon warehouse, yesterday’s convergence took place in front of the LDJ5 warehouse where workers this week are voting to unionize. The mood was electric, in many ways resembling the October 2019 Queensbridge mass rally in New York City that brought together Bernie, AOC, and tens of thousands of their supporters.
Though smaller in number, this Sunday’s event was perhaps even more significant in content. If Queensbridge reflected the emergence of a fight for anti-billionaire, pro-worker transformation in the electoral arena, Staten Island shows that this movement is finally popping off at workplaces across the country. As ALU president Chris Smalls put it: “The revolution is here.”
But despite hope being in the air and despite Amazon being the biggest prize for union organizers and despite them having the most high profile socialists in the country supporting their effort, it failed. The left went all in and came up with bupkis. In fact, the NY Post reports the vote wasn’t even close:
The vote count stood at 380 in favor of unionization and 618 against it, according to a National Labor Relations Board tally. The Staten Island facility, codenamed LDJ5, employs about 1,600 people.
The union has acknowledged the outcome and is vowing to fight on:
The count has finished. The election has concluded without the union being recognized at LDJ5—sortation center on Staten Island. The organizing will continue at this facility and beyond. The fight has just begun. #ALU
— Amazon Labor Union (@amazonlabor) May 2, 2022
But as I mentioned above, Amazon is also fighting back and today secured a hearing to argue that a local NRLB office interfered with the previous vote. An Amazon spokesman told Yahoo Finance today, “Fewer than a third of the employees at the site voted for the union, and overall turnout was unusually low. We filed evidence supporting our objections which we believe will demonstrate that the actions of the NLRB and the Amazon labor Union improperly suppressed and influenced the vote.” Because Amazon is claiming the local NRLB office was part of the problem, the hearing will be handled by an office in Phoenix. Potentially, that office could decide that another vote needs to be taken, but either way the outcome of this review is probably going to take a while.
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