Supply Chain Matters highlights a breaking news development concerning online retail platform provider Amazon.

Workers at the JFK8 customer fulfillment facility located in statin island, New York have voted to establish a labor union, the first Amazon facility to do so.

According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the vote was 2,654 in favor and 2,131 opposed, an indication of a narrow margin. There were reportedly 8,300 workers eligible for voting. The overall voting turnout was reported to be more than 57 percent.

Amazon released a statement to media outlets indicating disappointment with the outcome and continues to believe that workers having a direct relationship with the company is best for employees.

This development is obviously historic, given that this is the first Amazon facility that has elected worker representation.  The online retail platform provider has not been receptive to ongoing efforts for labor union activity.

The election held in JFK8 parallels another scheduled election to be held at the LDJ5 facility, consisting of 1,500 workers,  also located in the similar area. That election is scheduled later this month. Both New York based efforts have been facilitated by a small, independent labor union led by former Amazon employees led by Chris Smalls. Many of the worker grievances reportedly stem from perceptions of inadequate safety measures among many Amazon facilities during the pandemic as well as a hard driving culture that constantly ups worker productivity rates.

A second worker organizing election was held at the Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama. The first election held at this facility was rejected by voting workers. Earlier this week, the NLRB indicated that this second election is too close to call, requiring a hearing among stakeholders to review the vote count. Reportedly at issue is a number of contested ballots that could determine the overall outcome. The first election at this facility, which workers had voted against unionization, was negated by the NLRB after finding that Amazon acted inappropriately during the election process which included placing a U.S. Mail receptacle on company property for worker to mail in their ballots. The Bessemer action has been facilitated by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Labor Union (RDSU).

In its reporting on the election results, the Washington Post indicated:

The victory at the e-commerce giant is a major turning point for U.S. labor, which has seen a handful of key wins for unionization since the beginning of the pandemic. America has entered a period of unusually tight labor markets that many economists believe has given workers newfound power to demand higher wages and conditions from their employers.”

Employing over one million workers across the U.S., the online retailer has become the second largest employer and a target for labor organizing groups. The Teamster’s Labor Union has publicly stated that worker organizing efforts remain a goal. Likewise, the broader AFL-CIO labor coalition recently swung its support and monetary support for more active worker organizing efforts among Amazon facilities and services groups.

Various labor experts have opined that large scale efforts to organize multiple Amazon facilities will require significant efforts, given the high turnover rates among the company’s operational workers. Another factor is that the online retailer reportedly has made efforts to locate facilities within key U.S. Congressional voting districts in efforts to be a dominant employer.

Such organizing efforts obviously will attempt to garner momentum given this first election result.

 

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