Mapping Union Activity at Amazon — February 21, 2022

Kevin Vazquez

Kevin Vazquez is a student at Harvard Law School.

This post is the second of an ongoing OnLabor feature that will update readers on union developments at Amazon. Here is the first.

A second group of Amazon workers will officially have the opportunity to vote for union representation. Last Thursday, on February 16, the NLRB released a Stipulated Election Agreement between Amazon and the Amazon Labor Union to hold an election at its Staten Island warehouse known as JFK8. The ballot, which will be printed in both English and Spanish, will pose a single simple question: “Do you wish to be represented for purposes of collective bargaining by Amazon Labor Union?” If a majority of voting workers select “Yes,” then ALU will be certified as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of all workers in the bargaining unit at the facility, pursuant to section 9(a) of the NLRA, and Amazon will have a duty to bargain in good faith with the union in accordance with section 8(a)(5). This is only the second time that Amazon workers have reached this step in the U.S., following the defeated Bessemer, Alabama effort in April 2021 (although, because the NLRB determined that Amazon violated the NLRA in the first Bessemer election, workers in the Bessemer facility are currently revoting by mail in a rerun election). If the union wins the election, employees at JFK8 will become the first unionized Amazon workers in North America.

The election will be held over the course of five days, from March 25 until March 30, in a tent located in the warehouse’s parking lot, and workers will be able to cast their votes between the hours of 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM. An NLRB official, along with an representative of ALU, will conduct an inspection of the polling area on March 22, and the ballots will be tallied on March 31 — meaning the results should be announced within days of the Bessemer rerun vote count, which is scheduled to begin on March 28. According to the NLRB, the bargaining unit, within the meaning of section 9(b), will consist of “all hourly full-time and regular-part time fulfillment center associates” employed at the facility — excluding, among others, truck drivers; seasonal, temporary, clerical, professional, or managerial employees; or loss prevention employees, guards, or supervisors. All employees in the unit who have worked an average of at least four hours per week during the preceding 13 weeks will be eligible to vote — totaling, in sum, more than 5,000 workers, only slightly less than the 6,100 who are eligible to vote in the Bessemer warehouse.

ALU initially filed a petition to hold an election at JFK8, in addition to several other Amazon facilities in Staten Island, in October 2021, but it withdrew the petition the following month, after the NLRB determined it had insufficient signatures to proceed, and refiled, focusing solely on JFK8, in December. The NLRB accepted the refiled petition in January and announced that it would schedule a hearing to move forward with the election, which was held on Thursday. ALU has already filed numerous unfair labor practice charges against Amazon thus far in the process, and, as the election campaign officially begins, Amazon’s efforts to stave off the union drive are sure to intensify. Whether the company will tread more carefully in the wake of the NLRB’s determination that it violated labor law during the Bessemer election remains unclear. It is also unclear how the union will fare as the campaign unfolds and Amazon brings its immense resources to bear against the union organizers. It is, however, clear that, if ALU manages to prevail, it will be a significant, and potentially pivotal, moment for organized labor in North America.

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