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Amazon Labor Union Loses LDJ5 Sorting Ctr. Election on Staten Island

NEW YORK, N.Y.—The Amazon Labor Union lost its bid to organize a second Amazon facility on Staten Island, as workers at the company’s LDJ5 sorting center voted 618-380 against the union. The National Labor Relations Board announced the results May 2, after counting the ballots cast Apr. 25-29.

“The count has finished. The election has concluded without the union being recognized,” the ALU posted on Twitter. “The organizing will continue at this facility and beyond. The fight has just begun.”

The union said Amazon had spent more than $1 million in union-busting efforts on Staten Island. “I’m not surprised at this result with all the union busting that went on at LDJ5,” ALU volunteer attorney Seth Goldstein told VICE. “We will certainly contest the election. They violated laboratory conditions in this election with mandatory anti-union meetings, and we’ve already got a whole series of charges against them.”

LDJ5, which has about 1,600 workers, opened in late 2020, after ALU founders had already gained a foothold at the larger JFK8 facility in the same industrial park by organizing protests about unsafe conditions during the worst of the COVID-19 epidemic in New York City. 

Amazon began daily captive-audience meetings at LDJ5 before JFK8 workers voted in favor of the union in late March. ALU field director Julian Mitchell-Israel told Jacobin magazine in late April that he estimated Amazon had one union-buster for every 20 workers inside LDJ5, both anti-union consultants and management from other facilities — including two managers following him around during his shifts.

“The ALU is Lying to you! The only thing they guarantee is… you no longer have a voice,” said a company flyer taped to a snack machine at LDJ5, the Washington Post reported.

“Mega-corporations continue to spend millions in union-busting + fear tactics & we continue to organize for a society not based on exploitation & greed,” the ALU posted on Twitter while the ballots were being counted and the no votes piling up.

The union filed its most recent unfair-labor-practice complaint against Amazon with the NLRB on Apr. 28. It has until May 9 to challenge the election results. Amazon has challenged the JFK8 vote, claiming that the union had intimidated workers. An NLRB hearing on that complaint is scheduled for May 23.

On April 21, the ALU and the New York State American Federation of Teachers asked state Attorney General Letitia James to investigate whether Amazon’s anti-union activities violated the worker-protection provisions of the Excelsior Jobs Program, a state tax-credit program for the tech industry.

“The fight at Amazon continues. The only thing this greedy, abusive company won today is a guarantee that Amazon workers everywhere will not give up until they have a union,” Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said in a statement. The Teamsters and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union are the two main established unions trying to organize Amazon.

Meanwhile, about 100 workers at Amazon’s warehouse and shipping center in Shakopee, Minnesota, walked out on the night of Apr. 29, demanding a $3-an-hour wage increase and time off for the Muslim holiday of Eid, celebrating the end of the Ramadan month of fasting, on May 1. Many of the workers there are Somali immigrants.

“Imagine if you worked on Christmas and Amazon forced you to,” worker Tyler Hamilton told a crowd outside the facility. “Amazon is doing that with Eid right now, and they get away with it — just like they got away with lowering our pay as the cost of housing goes up.”

And on the night of Apr. 30, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted 88-56 to pass a labor-backed bill to outlaw captive-audience meetings — in legalese, to “prohibit an employer from coercing any employee into attending or participating in a meeting sponsored by the employer concerning the employer’s views on political or religious matters” — and send it to Gov. Ned Lamont. The governor is expected to sign it, the Hartford Courant reported.

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