In a long-sought victory for organized labor, Amazon workers at a New York warehouse voted Friday to join a union. Workers chose to become part of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) by an over 500-vote margin out of nearly 4,800 cast at the facility.
The company for years has resisted unionization and touted its own benefits compared with those of union membership. Industry analysts believe the current Amazon labor model that is critical for its Prime two-day shipping guarantee will be disrupted by the move.
ALU is unaffiliated with any larger unions or coalitions and has remained independent since its formation only last year. The voting results await verification by the National Labor Relations Board.
The White House on Friday praised the successful effort, with spokesperson Jen Psaki saying, “the president was glad to see workers ensure their voices are heard with respect to important workplace decisions.”
Amazon expressed disappointment in the outcome and said it is evaluating options, including filing objections to the “inappropriate and undue influence by the NLRB” witnessed during the election process.
Both sides in the election lobbied workers heavily, with Amazon flooding employees with letters and emails denouncing the collective bargaining attempt. Demonstrators carried signs and placards denouncing “Bezos’ Billions: Stolen From Workers” and “Fight Racism and Union Busting.”
In a separate union vote at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama this week went in the company’s favor. However, both sides maintain some who were ineligible to vote did so, and the tally of 416 challenged ballots is ongoing. The sides squared off in 2021 with opponents of unionization winning handily, but the NLRB declared Amazon interfered in the process and ordered a second vote.
In recent months, workers at seven Starbucks locations have voted to unionize, and employees at over 150 company locations have filed with the NLRB to hold union elections.
In the cases of Amazon or Starbucks, don’t expect a contract to be signed anytime soon. Labor analysts say the average time for a collective bargaining agreement to be agreed upon by newly unionized employees and their employers is nearly 14 months.