Amazon workers in upstate New York have voted against forming a union, dealing another blow to a local workers’ group trying to organize some of the tech giant’s US warehouses.
In all, 406 workers at the Amazon facility near Albany voted against unionization and 206 voted for it, according to a preliminary count Tuesday from the National Labor Relations Board. There were some contested and invalid ballots, but not a big enough number to affect the final results.
Workers at the facility, called ALB1, tried to organize with the Amazon Labor Union, the same workers group that successfully formed the first-ever union earlier this year at a US Amazon facility in Staten Island, New York. The Albany vote marked the ALU’s third attempt to unify an Amazon warehouse after it failed to win a union victory at a smaller Amazon facility also located on Staten Island. It’s also because Amazon has still not formally recognized the union on Staten Island or come to the negotiating table.
After the vote count was completed on Tuesday, ALU chairman Chris Smalls said his union group is “with mixed feelings” about the results, promising, “This will not be the end of ALU at ALB1.”
Smalls also accused Amazon of retaliating against union organizers at ALB1, which Amazon has previously denied, calling the vote a “mock election”.
Amazon, meanwhile, welcomed the election results in a statement Tuesday.
“We are pleased that our team in Albany was able to make their voices heard and that they have chosen to maintain the direct relationship with Amazon as we believe this is the best arrangement for both our employees and customers,” said Kelly Nantel, a That says an Amazon spokesperson in a statement. “We will continue to work directly with our teammates in Albany, as we do everywhere, to make Amazon better every day.”
Amazon’s organizational efforts have sprung up amid a broader revival of the American labor movement during the pandemic, with some early union victories at companies like Apple and Starbucks. Smalls, in particular, has emerged as a face of this labor movement since the Staten Island victory, appearing at the White House and posing with celebrities at the Time 100 summit.
Smalls previously told CNN Business that the ALU has seen an explosion of interest from Amazon employees in other facilities since the original win. In addition to the ALB1 facility, an Amazon fulfillment center in Moreno Valley, California, also recently petitioned the ALU for a union election.
But ahead of the vote in Albany last week, Smalls seemed to downplay the ramifications of the outcome, suggesting the organizing activity itself is a win. “The expansion of the ALU is historic in itself,” he previously told CNN. “I don’t think there’s anything at stake.”
Smalls echoed that sentiment in a tweet on Tuesday before the vote began. “Proud of the brave workers of ALB1, regardless of today’s results,” he tweeted, adding: “You miss 100% of the photos you don’t take!”
Amazon’s employee organizers at the Albany facility say they were inspired to form a union after seeing the ALU’s success on Staten Island. Some workers in Albany said they were also motivated to get organized after seeing colleagues injured at work. A report from the National Employment Law Project found that the ALB1 facility had the highest “serious injury” rates of any Amazon facility in the state.
An Amazon spokesperson previously told CNN Business that Amazon ramped up hiring to meet Covid-19 demand “and like other companies in the industry, we saw an increase in recordable injuries during this period from 2020 to 2021. , because we trained so many new employees. The spokesperson added that the company has invested billions of dollars in new security measures for operations.