Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

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.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Solidarity Fund Up and Running for Designer Behind Iconic Bernie Sanders Posters

Tyler Evans "has dedicated his life to the progressive movement," says the GoFundMe created for the hospitalized designer. "Now it's our time to have Tyler's back when he and his family need it most."

Jessica Corbett ·

Journalism Defenders Push for Passage of 'Game-Changing' PRESS Act

"The PRESS Act is the most important free press legislation in modern times because it would finally stop the government from spying on journalists and threatening them with arrest for doing their jobs," explained one advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·

New York Times Union Workers Planning Dec. 8 Walkout, Rally Over Pay

"Our collective action is working: Management backed off its attempt to kill our pension and agreed to expand fertility benefits," the union said of ongoing talks. "But management still barely budged on some of our most important priorities."

Jessica Corbett ·

Dems Back Blue Dog Spanberger for Swing District Post Over Progressive Cartwright

The corporate Democrat's path to victory was "pretty simple," said one progressive. "Matt Cartwright supports Medicare for All and Spanberger is a former CIA agent who spends all her time punching left."

Julia Conley ·

100+ Groups Urge Congress to Back Sanders' Yemen War Powers Resolution

"After seven years of direct and indirect involvement in the Yemen war, the United States must cease supplying weapons, spare parts, maintenance services, and logistical support to Saudi Arabia."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo