Protesters during a demonstration by the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) in the Staten Island district of New York, USA, on Sunday, April 24, 2022.
Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Amazon workers cast their ballots on Monday as part of another high-stakes union rally at a warehouse on Staten Island, New York.
About 1,500 workers at the LDJ5 warehouse are eligible to vote in the election, which takes place in a large, white tent outside the facility. Voting began early Monday morning and will continue until Friday. The National Labor Relations Board will begin counting ballots on May 2nd.
The election takes place directly opposite another Amazon warehouse, known as JFK8, which in a surprising move voted in the company’s first US union less than a month ago. Unlike JFK8, a massive warehouse of 855,000 square feet with about 6,000 employees, LDJ5 is a much smaller facility where employees sort packages for delivery.
Amazon Labor Union, made up of current and former corporate employees, is seeking to assemble another Amazon warehouse after its landmark victory at JFK8. ALU urges Amazon to increase the hourly wage for all workers to a minimum of $ 30 per hour. The average starting salary on an hourly basis in U.S. fulfillment centers is $ 18 per hour, according to Amazon. The union is also looking for, among other things, longer breaks and improved services.
The more unions like ALU have targeted Amazon, the more aggressive Amazon has become at discouraging employees from signing up. The company has held mandatory meetings at LDJ5, where employees are required to attend presentations against unions, and it even hired an influential Democratic pollster to help with its campaign.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin last week that the company believes employees are “better off” not joining a union.
“In a place like Amazon that empowers employees, if they see something they can do better for customers or for themselves, they can meet in a room, decide how to change it and change it,” Jassy said. “That kind of empowerment doesn’t happen when you have unions. It’s much more bureaucratic, it’s much slower.”
Amazon seeks to overturn the election results on JFK8, arguing in an application to the NLRB that the federal labor agency and the union acted in a way that tarnished the results. A lawyer representing ALU called Amazon’s claims “obviously absurd.”
Since the successful election at JFK8, Christian Smalls, president of ALU and a former Amazon worker, has said he has heard from a number of workers at other Amazon warehouses in the United States
Trade union efforts at Amazon have received high-profile support in recent weeks. Earlier this month, President Joe Biden threw his support behind organizing Amazon workers, saying, “Amazon, here we come.”
On Sunday, Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., ALU to a meeting outside LDJ5 ahead of the election. Sanders shot at Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the second richest man in the world, in remarks at the demonstration.
“I say to Jeff Bezos, who owns a $ 500 million yacht, Jeff, when you’re out on your yacht, I want you to think about the workers in Staten Island and your employees across this country,” Sanders said. to the audience. “They do not want a $ 500 million yacht. They do not want a $ 23 million mansion that you have in Washington, DC. They want affordable housing. They want to be able to sell one. a few dollars to send their children to college. They do not want to be exploited and continue this massive turnover that is taking place here because of the terrible working conditions. “