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Amazon loses bid to overturn Union victory at Staten Island warehouse

Amazon loses bid to overturn Union victory at Staten Island warehouse

A federal labor official on Wednesday dismissed Amazon’s attempt to overturn a union victory at a Staten Island warehouse, 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 improper elections and that his objections to the election should be overridden.

The decision was widely awaited after a Working Committee hearing officer recommended in September that the company’s objections should be overturned. Amazon said at the time that it was likely to appeal an unfavorable decision, but didn’t immediately say on Wednesday if it intended to do so. An appeal would be reviewed by the Washington Department of Labor.

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

“This has a real chance of ending up in federal courts,” Mr Jassy said.

In its objections, Amazon argued that the election was unfair both because of the behavior of the labor committee and because of the union’s actions in pressuring workers.

The NLRB regional director noted that the evidence provided by Amazon did not show that the board or the union acted improperly, nor that their actions changed the outcome of the election.

For example, Amazon had accused the Labor Department of failing to monitor the presence of members of the news media near the voting area. However, the regional director noted that “the press was assembled peacefully and not involved in voter harassment” and that board officials “had no responsibility to direct the press not to speak to voters or to leave employer property.”

Workers at the camp, known as JFK8, voted to join the independent Amazon Labor Union in an election whose results were announced in April. More than 8,000 workers were eligible, with the union winning by around 10 percentage points.

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

Wednesday’s decision comes after another unfavorable ruling for Amazon related to activities at JFK8. In mid-November, a federal judge in New York issued an injunction ordering the company to “stop and desist” from firing workers for exercising their labor rights. The judge also forced company officials to read their order to workers at the warehouse.

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

The judge’s ruling essentially warned Amazon that it could not fire workers if they engaged in protected activities such as protesting safety conditions or unionizing. During the first week of December, Amazon officials repeatedly read the judge’s order to workers at JFK8.

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