Two groups of workers in two of Amazon's Staten Island warehouses have filed petitions with the National Labor Relations Board to ask for a vote to unionize, becoming only the second serious union effort at the country's second-largest private employer.
The union, called Amazon Labor Union, is an independent group not affiliated with any national organization. The other major effort to unionize Amazon workers in the Bessemer, Alabama warehouse is run by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which already represents about 60,000 workers. Despite Amazon's massive size, no group of workers has ever successfully mounted a union campaign at the company, and the first Bessemer union election went in favor of Amazon by more than a 2:1 ratio. Amazon will face a second union election in Bessemer beginning at the end of this week, after the NLRB ruled that the company illegally interfered with the first.
The NLRB filed a complaint against Amazon's treatment of the Staten Island warehouse union movement in late January, alleging the company illegally interfered with workers' rights to organize. Amazon will get the chance to refute the accusations in a hearing set for April 5. The company also reached an agreement with the NLRB in December that gives the NLRB the right to investigate and sue Amazon more quickly and easily if the company violates labor laws.
The NLRB's lead council, Jennifer Abruzzo, also announced today that she was seeking the right to intervene (or "seek injunctions") early in the process when companies appear to threaten or coerce workers during union organizing, rather than waiting the many months often required for normal NLRB proceedings (for example, like the Amazon hearing that will take place in April).
Amazon did not immediately respond to request for comment.