A fledgling union of employees at four Amazon warehouses in Staten Island officially requested an election to form a union on Monday, the National Labor Relations Board said.
For months, the organizers behind the union push have been collecting signatures on cards that must be submitted to the labor agency to request a vote. Christian Smalls, a former Amazon employee leading the effort, said late last week that he anticipated submitting more than 2,000 employee signatures.
If the labor board determines that the submission represents 30 percent of the proposed bargaining unit, the effort could bring the second unionization vote at an Amazon warehouse in less than a year.
Kayla Blado, the press secretary for the National Labor Relations Board, said the agency was still counting its cards.
Derrick Palmer, an Amazon worker who has helped lead the effort, said he was excited for the submission after many months of organizing.
“I believe we have enough votes to move forward to our election,” he said in an interview as he waited outside the labor agency’s office in Brooklyn where the cards were being counted.
Amazon was “skeptical that a sufficient number of legitimate employee signatures has been secured to warrant an election,” Kelly Nantel, a company spokeswoman, 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.”
The effort in Staten Island is being organized by current and former Amazon workers aiming to form a new independent union, called the Amazon Labor Union, focused solely on the nation’s second-largest employer.
An election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama earlier this year, supported by a national retail workers union, was unsuccessful. But the labor agency is considering throwing out the results of that election because of Amazon’s anti-union measures. Amazon has said it would appeal if the vote is invalidated.
Monday’s submission is the result of six months of organizing focused on a massive Staten Island warehouse, known as JFK8, that serves as Amazon’s key pipeline to New York City and employs more than 5,000 people. Over time, the organizers extended their push to include three smaller Amazon facilities in the same industrial park.
Workers at JFK8 have accused Amazon of illegally interfering with their organizing rights. Staff lawyers at the labor board have found some merit to further pursue three of their cases and is still investigating six additional cases, the agency said.