Apr 1, 2022 - Economy

Amazon warehouse workers on Staten Island vote to unionize

People outside an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island on March 25.

People outside an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island on March 25. Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon workers at a Staten Island warehouse voted to form a union on Friday.

Why it matters: This marks a landmark moment for organized labor and the e-commerce behemoth Amazon, which has resisted unionization efforts in its U.S. operations.

  • The final tally was 2,654 in favor of unionization vs. 2,131 opposed. There were 4,785 votes cast, out of 8,325 possible voters.
  • Labor advocates, including the National Labor Relations Board, have for years accused Amazon of unfair labor practices.
  • The union, called the Amazon Labor Union, was started by Christian Smalls, a fired Amazon worker.

What they're saying: Smalls said in a tweet, "@amazon wanted to make me the face of the whole unionizing efforts against them…. welp there you go! ... CONGRATULATIONS .... We worked had fun and made History."

  • Amazon said in a statement Friday that it was "disappointed with the outcome of the election in Staten Island because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees."
  • "We’re evaluating our options, including filing objections based on the inappropriate and undue influence by the NLRB that we and others (including the National Retail Federation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce) witnessed in this election," the company added.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a White House briefing on Friday that Biden "was glad to see workers ensure their voices are heard with respect to important workplace decisions."

"He believes firmly that every worker in every state must have a free and fair choice to join a union and the right to bargain collectively with their employer, the Amazon workers in Staten Island made their choice to organize a grassroots union and bargain for better jobs, and a better life," she said.

The big picture: Amazon workers in Bessemer, Ala., voted against forming a union last year.

  • That election was thrown out by the NLRB after it determined Amazon had "interfered with the employees’ exercise of a free and reasoned choice," and an ongoing do-over vote — where turnout was lower than in the prior vote — is currently too close to call.

Go deeper: Workers at fourth Minnesota Starbucks store seek to form union

Editor's note: This story has been updated with statements from Amazon and Jen Psaki.

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