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Amazon workers celebrate their union election win

Union leader Christian Smalls celebrates with Amazon workers following the April 1, 2022 vote for the unionization of the JFK8 Amazon warehouse in New York. (Photo: Andrea Renault/AFP via Getty Images)

'Great Day for Labor': NLRB Rejects Amazon Attempt to Overturn Union Win

"This was an outrageous union-busting campaign by Amazon and we're demanding the company come to the table to bargain," said an attorney for the Amazon Labor Union.

Jake Johnson

The National Labor Relations Board on Thursday completely rejected Amazon's attempt to dispute and overturn a historic union victory in New York earlier this year, paving the way for the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island to become the company's first-ever certified union shop in the United States.

In a new filing, the NLRB officer who presided over weeks of virtual hearings on Amazon's election objections concluded that the corporation's protests against the union's landmark victory "should be overruled in their entirety."

"The employer has not met its burden of establishing that Region 29 [of the NLRB], the petitioner, or any third parties have engaged in objectionable conduct affecting the results of the election," the federal labor official wrote, dismissing Amazon's claims that the union committed "electioneering in the polling area" and "distributed marijuana to employees in exchange for their support," along with a slew of other allegations.

Christian Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), said in response to the decision that "today is a great day for labor."

"After dealing with all of that virtual court, it feels good to finally have celebratory news," Smalls said in a statement. "We're hoping that the NLRB certifies it so we can get some rights in the building and protect workers."

Cassio Mendoza, ALU's communications director, echoed Smalls, saying "it is our hope that the Regional Director for Region 28 can expedite our certification and that the NLRB enforces Amazon's legal obligation to negotiate with the workers of the ALU."

Amazon, which used aggressive union-busting tactics in its failed attempt to fend off the JFK8 organizing drive, said it "strongly" disagrees with the NLRB's decision and plans to appeal, claiming that "the NLRB and the ALU improperly influenced the outcome of the election."

Amazon has two weeks to file its objections. If the company's last-ditch effort fails, it will be required by federal law to begin contract negotiations with the union, which could take months or years.

"This was an outrageous union-busting campaign by Amazon," ALU attorney Seth Goldstein told the Washington Post, "and we're demanding the company come to the table to bargain."

As veteran labor reporter Steven Greenhouse wrote for The Guardian on Thursday, "Agreeing on a first contract quickly is a high-stakes matter."

"If unionized workers at Starbucks, Amazon, or Trader Joe's facilities quickly reach first contracts that contain impressive raises and benefits, that will no doubt inspire workers at many other Starbucks, Amazon, and Trader Joe's operations to seek to unionize," Greenhouse observed. "But if companies manage to drag out reaching a first contract for a year or two or three, that could send a strong signal that unionization might not be the boon workers had hoped for."

"There is no real disincentive to prevent companies from dragging out negotiations indefinitely," Greenhouse noted, "because federal labor law contains no financial penalties against companies that bargain in bad faith to delay ever reaching an agreement."

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