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Amazon Albany

Amazon Labor Union founder and president Chris Smalls speaks to workers outside the company's Schodack, New York fulfillment center on October 11, 2022. (Photo: New York Public Employees Federation/Twitter)

Following 'Brutal Union-Busting Campaign,' Albany Amazon Workers Reject Unionization

"The voting process wasn't free and fair," said Amazon Labor Union founder and president Chris Smalls. "It was a sham election in which workers were subjected to intimidation and retaliation on a daily basis."

Brett Wilkins

Amazon Labor Union said Tuesday that it will appeal the results of an unsuccessful vote to unionize workers at the e-commerce giant's warehouse near Albany, New York—an election that labor advocates said was marred by a monthslong union-busting effort by company management.

"We're proud of the brave workers in upstate New York who stood up in the face of a vicious anti-union campaign to challenge a trillion-dollar corporation."

Workers at Amazon's 1-million-square-foot Schodack fulfillment center rejected unionization by a nearly 2 to 1 margin—406 to 206—after an aggressive push by company executives to thwart organizers.

"We had faced a lot of adversity over the last couple of weeks," lead organizer Heather Goodall, who works at the warehouse, said following the defeat, according to the Albany Times Union. "We're going to go ahead and remain strong."

Instead of requesting a new election, Amazon Labor Union (ALU) will ask the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to issue a direct bargaining order.

According to More Perfect Union (MPU), Amazon "has been waging a brutal union-busting campaign for months—firing union supporters, calling police on organizers, and more."

MPU said Amazon denied employees representation during dubious disciplinary proceedings, threatened workers, called police on organizers on five separate occasions, and subjected workers to anti-union pressure and lies.

Chris Smalls, who led the successful effort to form the ALU at the company's JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island earlier this year, lamented Tuesday's vote in Albany.

"Today, everyone involved with ALU is filled with mixed emotions," he said. "We're proud of the brave workers in upstate New York who stood up in the face of a vicious anti-union campaign to challenge a trillion-dollar corporation."

"We're also feeling both anger and disappointment that the voting process wasn't free and fair," the ALU founder and president added. "It was a sham election in which workers were subjected to intimidation and retaliation on a daily basis and even workers who volunteered to be election observers were faced with threats of termination."

Faced with increased worker organizing—including the establishment of the ALU and the first-ever work stoppage at the company's air freight division in August—Amazon has fired organizers and unsuccessfully petitioned the NLRB to overturn the ALU's victory. 

Instead, the NLRB said earlier this year that the company violated federal labor laws by intimidating and threatening Amazon workers who tried to unionize. The board also found in 2021 that the company broke labor laws during a unionization drive at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.

Tuesday's Schodack vote bucks a national trend of labor organizing across the United States. Defying corporate union-busting, workers at more than 200 U.S. Starbucks locations, as well as employees of companies including Amy's Kitchen, Apple, Chipotle, HelloFresh, and Trader Joe's have moved to unionize, as have Minor League Baseball players.


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