Amazon workers in upstate New York have voted against forming a union, dealing another blow to a grassroots labor group attempting to organize several of the tech giant’s US warehouses.
In total, 406 workers at the Amazon facility near Albany voted against unionizing and 206 voted for it, according to a preliminary tally Tuesday from the National Labor Relations Board. There were some challenged and void ballots, but not a big enough figure to sway the final results.
Workers at the facility, called ALB1, were seeking to organize with the Amazon Labor Union, the same grassroots worker group that successfully formed the first-ever union at a US Amazon facility in Staten Island, New York, earlier this year. The Albany vote was the ALU’s third attempt to unionize an Amazon warehouse, after it fell short of securing a union win at a smaller Amazon facility also located in Staten Island. It also comes as Amazon has still not formally recognized the union in Staten Island or come to the bargaining table.
Amazon did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on the union vote Tuesday. Amazon spokesperson Paul Flaningan previously told CNN in a statement that it is skeptical there are a sufficient number of legitimate signatures to support the union’s petition for an election.
“We’ve always said that we want our employees to have their voices heard, and we hope and expect this process allows for that,” Flaningan added.
The Amazon organizing efforts have come amid a broader reawakening of the US labor movement during the pandemic, with some early union victories at companies such as Apple and Starbucks. Chris Smalls, the president of ALU, has emerged as a face of this labor movement since the win in Staten Island, making appearances at the White House and posing with celebrities at the Time 100 summit.
Smalls previously told CNN Business that the ALU has been fielding an explosion of interest from Amazon workers at other facilities since its original victory. In addition to the ALB1 facility, an Amazon fulfillment center in Moreno Valley, California, also recently submitted a petition for a union election with the ALU.
But ahead of the Albany vote last week, Smalls appeared to play down the ramifications of the outcome, suggesting the organizing activity itself is a victory. “The expansion of the ALU is definitely historical by itself,” he previously told CNN. “I don’t think nothing’s up for stake.”
Smalls echoed that sentiment in a tweet on Tuesday before the vote tally kicked off. “Proud of the brave workers of ALB1 regardless of todays results,” he tweeted, adding that “taking on a Trillion dollar company can never be a loss for workers. We will continue to empower all workers to give them the right to unionize. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!
Amazon’s worker-organizers at the Albany facility say they were inspired to form a union after seeing the success of the ALU in Staten Island. Some workers in Albany said they were also motivated to organize after witnessing colleagues get injured on the job. A report from the National Employment Law Project found that the ALB1 facility had the highest rates of “most serious injuries” among all Amazon facilities in the state.
Flaningan previously told CNN Business that Amazon ramped up hiring to meet demand from Covid-19 “and like other companies in the industry, we saw an increase in recordable injuries during this time from 2020 to 2021 as we trained so many new employees.” He added that the company has invested billions of dollars in new operations safety measures.