Union vote at Amazon's NY warehouse big step closer

Amazon Union

NEW YORK (AP) — The National Labor Relations Board said there was sufficient interest to form a union at an Amazon distribution center in New York, after union organizers on Monday delivered hundreds of signatures to the agency — a key step in authorizing a vote that could establish the first union at the nation's largest online retailer.

This is the second unionizing attempt in the past year at Amazon. Workers in Alabama resoundingly defeated an effort earlier this year, but organizers there are asking federal officials for a do-over.

Organizers delivered more than 2,000 signed union-support cards to the NLRB's Brooklyn office after launching the effort in April. The specific number of signatures was not immediately available.

“This is a small victory," said Christian Smalls, a former employee of the retail giant who now leads the fledgling Amazon Labor Union, adding, “We know the fight has just started.”

As part of its petition to hold a union vote, organizers must have submitted signatures from at least 30% from the roughly 5,500 employees who the union says work at four adjoining Amazon facilities that it seeks to represent under collective bargaining.

Monday’s development puts the company on notice that the NLRB has determined that union organizers have met the minimum threshold for Amazon to formally acknowledge and to respond to the union-organizing petition. That means the company must post notices on its premises that the union is seeking to become the bargaining representative for thousands of Amazon workers on Staten Island.

The company could have several avenues to challenge the effort, including contesting the number of employees that union organizers used to calculate the minimum signatures they needed.

“We’re skeptical that a sufficient number of legitimate employee signatures has been secured to warrant an election," Amazon's spokesperson, Kelly Nantel, said in a statement.

“If there is an election, we want the voice of our employees to be heard and look forward to it. Our focus remains on listening directly to our employees and continuously improving on their behalf,” Nantel said.