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Amazon workers reject union bid at warehouse in Upstate New York

Oct. 18, 2022 Updated Tue., Oct. 18, 2022 at 7:22 p.m.

The Amazon Labor Union’s loss in Schodack, N.Y., is a setback for the union, which has struggled to expand its influence beyond New York City and even hang on to its gains there.  (Jim Young/Bloomberg )
The Amazon Labor Union’s loss in Schodack, N.Y., is a setback for the union, which has struggled to expand its influence beyond New York City and even hang on to its gains there. (Jim Young/Bloomberg )
By Matt Day and Spencer Soper Bloomberg

Bloomberg

Amazon workers at a warehouse near Albany, New York, voted by a 2-1 margin against joining an upstart labor union – the group’s second defeat in a row.

Of the approximately 650 ballots cast, 206 workers voted yes and 406 voted no to unionize under the banner of the Amazon Labor Union, which earlier this year won a historic election at a much larger Amazon facility in Staten Island. There were 31 contested ballots, not enough to change the outcome.

The loss is a setback for the ALU, which has struggled to expand its influence beyond New York City and even hang on to its gains there. The ALU lost a vote at a second Staten Island facility in May and is now battling Amazon over the results of the election it did win. (The Washington Post is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.)

The push at the warehouse in the upstate town of Schodack, was led by Heather Goodall, who started working at the facility in February. She and her colleagues were demanding higher wages, more paid time off and safer working conditions.

ALU President Chris Smalls said the union would continue to work at the facility and expressed pride in workers who “stood up in the face of a vicious anti-union campaign.” In an emailed statement, he said the election “wasn’t free and fair” and that Amazon subjected workers to “intimidation and retaliation on a daily basis.”

Smalls didn’t say whether the ALU would challenge the result to the National Labor Relations Board, as Amazon did following the union’s sole victory. The ALU has filed dozens of unfair labor practice charges against the company for its conduct in Schodack since going public with the move.

In an emailed statement, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said: “We’re glad that our team in Albany was able to have their voices heard and that they chose to keep the direct relationship with Amazon as we think that this is the best arrangement for both our employees and customers.”

Labor unrest has roiled various U.S. companies in the past couple of years. Last week, Apple workers at a store in Oklahoma City voted to unionize, marking the second location to do so. A union victory at a Starbucks store in Buffalo has since led to hundreds of successful votes around the country.

Last week the labor board said workers at an Amazon warehouse in Southern California had filed paperwork to hold a vote on whether join the ALU. Amazon said it doubted organizers there had collected sufficient signatures to call an election.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, meanwhile, is seeking to represent workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. Federal officials determined that Amazon’s conduct during a vote there last year made a fair election impossible, and a rerun election remains too close to call. Other unions have also ramped up their efforts in recent years to organize workers at Amazon, the second largest private employer in the U.S. behind Walmart.

In the U.K., hundreds of Amazon workers at a logistics hub near Coventry will vote Wednesday whether to strike. The walkout, if it goes ahead, would probably happen on Black Friday. Staff at several U.K. locations have previously staged informal work stoppages and walkouts to protest a 35-pence-an-hour wage increase, but a strike in Coventry would mark the first time Amazon workers have formally walked off the job. The workers there are backed by the GMB Union.

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