In a historic win for organized labor, Amazon workers at a warehouse in Staten Island voted to unionize on Friday.
The final count was 2,654 in favor and 2,131 against, according to the National Labor Relations Board. The result comes after a tense week at the warehouse, where organizers found themselves competing with their deep-pocketed employer for the hearts and minds of workers.
As late as Wednesday, many pro-union workers were uncertain about their chances. The size of the 855,000 square-foot warehouse made it hard to gauge other workers' positions, and some believed Amazon's anti-union messaging had swayed workers away from voting yes.
Staten Island-based Amazon.com Inc. distribution center union organizer Chris Smalls celebrates with champagne after getting the voting results to unionize the Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, N.Y., Friday, April 1, 2022, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Organizers of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) who were optimistic said New York's status as a labor-friendly state gave them confidence. This vote also coincided with a surge in labor activity across the country with at least 140 Starbucks locations having requested union elections.
An Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, also held its second union election this week. While it appears that the majority there have voted no, the NLRB will soon hold a hearing to review 416 challenged ballots, which could swing the vote.
Christian Smalls, president of the ALU who was fired in 2020 after organizing a strike, told Cheddar on Thursday that a win for the union doesn't mean he'll be returning to work at the warehouse.
"I'm looking forward to whatever's next as far as the union," said Smalls. "I'm not going to be working at Amazon anytime soon. If I do get reinstated, I'll definitely be resigning."