Amazon workers in NY vote for first-ever labor union

STORY: [UPSOUND, GROUP]: “Union! Union! Union!”

In a landmark victory for organized labor, workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York City voted on Friday to form the company’s first-ever labor union – delivering a strong rebuke to the nation’s second-largest private employer.

Fifty-five percent of employees at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Staten Island, known as JFK8, voted in support of forming the new Amazon Labor Union, or ALU, according to a count released by the National Labor Relations Board.

Labor advocates for years have considered Amazon's labor practices to be a threat to workers.

UNION ORGANIZER CHRISTIAN SMALLS: “And today the people have spoken. And the people wanted a union.”

Union organizer Christian Smalls and others popped champagne in celebration.

“We want to thank Jeff Bezos for going to space because when he was up there, we were signing people up.”

Amazon, which had warned employees about the potential pitfalls of unions by posting notices in bathroom stalls and holding mandatory meetings, issued a statement Friday saying (quote), "We're disappointed with the outcome of the election in Staten Island because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees.”

It added that it is evaluating options including filing objections based on inappropriate and undue influence by the NLRB.

A spokesperson for the NLRB said it is an independent federal agency and its actions against Amazon have been consistent with its Congressional mandate.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that President Joe Biden was glad to see that workers’ voices were heard.

“He believes firmly that every worker in every state must have a free and fair choice to join a union and the right to bargain collectively with their employer. The Amazon workers in Staten Island made their choice to organize a grassroots union and bargain for better jobs and a better life.”

Other recent labor drives are picking up momentum. Nine U.S. Starbucks stores have voted to organize, with more than 150 more seeking elections.