Labor Board Official Says Amazon Effort to Overturn Staten Island Warehouse Election Ought to Be Rejected

A federal labor official who presided over Amazon’s challenge to a union victory at a Staten Island warehouse has recommended dismissing the challenge, the National Labor Relations Board said Thursday.

The Labor Committee official, known as the Hearing Officer, concluded in a report that Amazon’s objections to the election should be withdrawn and that the Amazon Labor Union should be certified to represent workers at the warehouse, known as JFK8.

A regional employment agency director will make a formal decision in the coming weeks or months after considering the hearing officer’s report. Regional directors usually follow a hearing officer’s recommendation in such cases, but Amazon could still appeal to the Washington Department of Labor if the regional director’s decision upholds the election result.

Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for Amazon, said the company is reviewing the report, but “we totally disagree with the conclusion and intend to appeal.”

The Amazon Labor Union said it was pleased with the results but that its members “understand this is just the beginning of a much longer struggle.” She asked the labor authority to confirm the election results and require Amazon to negotiate with the union.

This year’s election at the Staten Island warehouse marked the first time Amazon warehouse workers in the United States voted to form a union. The working committee announced on April 1 that the Amazon union had won the election at JFK8 by more than 10 points. Around 4,800 employees cast their votes from more than 8,300 eligible voters.

The union was not affiliated with any established labor organization and its victory was seen as hopeless. Amazon held hundreds of mandatory anti-union meetings with employees in the run-up to the election, frequently texting them and posting signs throughout the warehouse urging them to vote no.

In its objections to the election, Amazon argued that the labor committee conducted the vote unfairly and the union forced workers to support it. The Hearing Officer found that there was little evidence to support either allegation and that the material provided by Amazon did not indicate that the outcome of the election had been altered.

For example, Amazon accused the Labor Authority of failing to control the presence of the news media near the voting area. The Hearing Officer concluded that there was no evidence that the presence of the news media pressured workers to vote one way or another, or discouraged them from voting. In any event, the hearing officer wrote in the report, it was up to Amazon to instruct members of the news media to leave their property if they found their presence problematic.

Similarly, Amazon accused the union of disrupting and shutting down its anti-union meetings and giving workers marijuana in exchange for their votes. The Hearing Officer concluded that neither action had affected the election.

Given the amount of anti-union material in the warehouse, the hearing officer wrote, Amazon had no problem getting its message across, despite some interruptions in its meetings.

Regarding the marijuana, the report concluded that the union had given it out to workers, but said Amazon “did not prove” that the union “gave marijuana to workers ‘in exchange for their assistance with the elections’.”

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