Amazon Loses Bid to Overturn Union Victory at Staten Island Warehouse

A federal labor official on Wednesday rejected Amazon’s attempt to overturn a union victory at a warehouse on Staten Island, removing a key obstacle to contract negotiations between the union and the company.

The official, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, found that there was a lack of evidence to support Amazon’s claim of election improprieties and that its objections to the election should be overruled.

“Amazon’s workers won fair and square,” Chris Smalls, the president of the Amazon Labor Union, said in a statement. “It’s now time for Amazon to quit stalling, obey the law, respect their workers, and sit down at the bargaining table.”

The decision was widely expected after a labor board hearing officer recommended in September that the company’s objections be set aside. Amazon, which argued that the election was unfair because of improper conduct by both the labor board and the union, said in a statement that it knew the regional director was unlikely to rule against the agency.

The company said it intended to appeal the decision to the labor board in Washington. “As we’ve said since the beginning, we don’t believe this election process was fair, legitimate or representative of the majority of what our team wants,” the statement said.

In an interview at The New York Times DealBook conference in late November, Andy Jassy, Amazon’s chief executive, indicated that the company would not drop its challenges, calling the fight “far from over.”

“That has a real chance to end up in federal courts,” Mr. Jassy said.

The N.L.R.B. regional director found that the evidence Amazon presented either did not establish that the board or the union acted improperly or that it did not show that their actions altered the outcome of the election.

For example, Amazon had accused the labor board of failing to control the presence of members of the news media near the voting area. But the regional director found that “the press was peaceably assembled and not engaged in harassment of voters” and that board officials “had no responsibility to instruct the press not to talk to voters or to leave the employer’s property.”

Workers at the warehouse, known as JFK8, voted to join the independent Amazon Labor Union in an election whose results were announced in April. More than 8,000 employees were eligible to take part, and the union won by roughly 10 percentage points.

Weeks later, the union lost a vote to represent workers at a smaller Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, LDJ5, and it lost another vote at a warehouse near Albany, N.Y., in October.

The decision on Wednesday came after another unfavorable ruling for Amazon tied to activity at JFK8. In mid-November, a federal judge in New York issued an injunction requiring the company to “cease and desist” from firing workers for exercising their labor rights. The judge also forced company officials to read her order to workers at the warehouse.

The case that resulted in the federal judge’s injunction dates back to the early days of the pandemic, when an Amazon worker protested safety conditions outside JFK8 and was later fired.

The judge’s ruling essentially put Amazon on notice that it could not fire workers for engaging in protected activities like protesting safety conditions or union organizing. Amazon officials read the judge’s order to workers at JFK8 repeatedly during the first week of December.

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