Chris Smalls and Derrick Palmer at the temporary headquarters of the Amazon Labor Union in Staten Island, New York, on June 15, 2022.
A historic union victory at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse should be upheld, a National Labor Relations Board official recommended on Thursday.
In April, more than 2,600 workers at Amazon’s warehouse in Staten Island, known as JFK8, voted to join the Amazon Labor Union, becoming the first group to vote in favor of unionizing at one of the e-commerce giant’s U.S. facilities.
Amazon in May sought to overturn the results of the election. It submitted a filing to the NLRB accusing the federal agency’s Brooklyn office of violating labor law by appearing to support the union drive. Amazon, which included 25 objections in its filing, also alleged that labor organizers intimidated workers to vote in their favor.
Amazon’s objections kicked off 24 days of hearings held via Zoom where lawyers for the company, NLRB’s Region 29 office, and the ALU dissected conduct during the election. JFK8 workers and union organizers, including Chris Smalls, co-founder and interim president of the ALU, were among the more than a dozen witnesses called to testify.
Lisa Dunn, the NLRB attorney presiding over the hearing, concluded in a filing Thursday that Amazon “had not met its burden” of establishing the agency, the union or any other parties “engaged in objectionable conduct affecting the results of the election,” NLRB spokesperson Kayla Blado said. Dunn also recommended ALU be certified as bargaining representative, Blado said.
Amazon has until Sept. 16 to file objections to Dunn’s recommendations, which will then be heard by a regional director of the NLRB. The regional director will determine whether to order a new union election, or certify the results of the April election, at which point Amazon will be required to start contract negotiations with the ALU.
The union said in a statement that it’s pleased with the hearing officer’s recommendations.
“It is our hope that the Regional Director for Region 28 can expedite our certification and that the NLRB enforces Amazon’s legal obligation to negotiate with the workers of the ALU,” the union said in a release posted to Twitter.
Representatives from Amazon and the NLRB didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ALU, a grassroots organization of current and former Amazon employees, has sought to expand its reach beyond JFK8. The union in May failed to replicate its successful union campaign at another Staten Island warehouse, but it has gained traction elsewhere.
Workers at an Amazon warehouse near Albany are seeking to be represented by the ALU. The NLRB has yet to set a date for that election. A Kentucky Amazon warehouse has also expressed interest in organizing under ALU.
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