Amazon loses bid to reverse historic Union win at Staten Island warehouse
Amazon’s efforts to roll back the results of a historic union win at its Staten Island warehouse failed, as a Federal Labor Council hearing officer Thursday rejected Amazon’s objections to the election.
The decision is a victory for the organizers in what could be a very long battle for recognition.
Soon after the spring vote, in which workers in the warehouse known as JFK decisively won the, which established Amazon’s first union facility in the United States, the company has filed more than two dozen objections to the National Labor Relations Board. In those filings, the mega-retailer claimed the election was tainted by the organizers and District 29, the agency’s regional office in Brooklyn that oversaw the election. The case was then moved to another regional office, based in Phoenix, Arizona, at Amazon’s request.
The 24-day hearing, which Amazon has unsuccessfully sought to shut from the public, was marked by tense exchanges between lawyers for both sides about which documents could be presented for evidence and which witnesses could testify.
On Thursday, Lisa Dunn, the agency officer who handled the company’s case, concluded that Amazon’s objections should be dismissed entirely and the union approved as a negotiating representative for the warehouse, an NLRB spokesperson wrote in an email.
“The employer has not fulfilled the burden of establishing that District 29, or the petitioner or any third party has engaged in objectionable conduct that affects the outcome of the election,” the spokesperson said, providing a summary of Dunn’s recommendation.
Thursday’s win is a relief to the Amazon Workers Union, a grassroots group of former and current workers whose unexpected victory came in April after weeks of aggressive campaigning on both sides.
“People have spoken and it’s time for Amazon to recognize the Amazon union and negotiate a contract,” Derek Palmer, leader of the Amazon Workers Union, said on Twitter.
Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said the company plans to file another appeal.
“While we are still reviewing the decision, we strongly disagree with the outcome and intend to appeal,” Nantel said in a statement. “As we have shown throughout the hearing with dozens of witnesses and hundreds of pages of documents, the NLRB and the ALU improperly influenced the outcome of the election and we don’t believe it represented what the majority of our team wanted.”
Amazon, the union and the agency’s Brooklyn office have until Sept. 16 to make any exceptions to the report, which will send the case to the regional director, who will issue an order to either certify the election results or request a re-vote. The company can still appeal the matter to the five-person Labor Council, whose Democratic majority is expected to sympathize with the union.
Even as the agency clings to a union victory, experts say companies that don’t want a union workforce often refuse to negotiate. The move could lead to protracted legal battles in federal court, which companies can use as a backdoor attempt to thwart workers’ victories.
Union loses separate elections, dampening morale
In May, the fledgling union lost separate elections in, which dampened enthusiasm elsewhere. At the same time, it was devoting more time and resources to defending its initial gain from the e-commerce giant.
Other campaigns have begun at Amazon warehouses in North Carolina, Kentucky and elsewhere, as workers try to collect enough signatures to qualify for union elections. The Amazon Workers Union recently filed for an election at an Amazon warehouse near Albany, New York.
CBS News’ Irina Ivanova contributed to this report.