Amazon workers in Staten Island reach union vote threshold

Workers at JFK8, an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Staten Island, New York, have reportedly collected enough signatures to proceed with a union election vote. A National Labor Relations Board spokesperson, speaking to Reuters, confirmed that the workers had “reached a sufficient showing of interest,” confirming a tweet from key organizer Chris Smalls.

That threshold of interest, incidentally, is 30 percent of a given workforce, which was likely a difficult feat given both the size of JFK8 and the nature of its round-the-clock shifts which ensure many coworkers never have cause to meet. More impressive is that this facility is seemingly being organized without the help of an established union, but instead by a new independent group endemic to this particular Fulfillment Center, calling itself the Amazon Labor Union (ALU).

ALU had previously submitted a petition for unionization, but withdrew it late last year after being informed by the NLRB that it had not collected enough signatures. 

Reached for comment, an Amazon spokesperson told Engadget “We’re skeptical that there are a sufficient number of legitimate signatures and we’re seeking to understand how these signatures were verified. Our employees have always had a choice of whether or not to join a union, and as we saw just a few months ago, the vast majority of our team in Staten Island did not support the ALU.”

This milestone comes shortly before Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama are scheduled to hold a re-vote on their own union election — in that instance, under the auspices of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union — on February 4th. A union vote took place at the facility almost exactly one year before, but the NLRB determined that Amazon had interfered in the election. 

In the case of JFK8, Amazon has until Friday to respond with its position. A hearing on the matter is slated for February 16th. 

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