Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, New York, have refiled a union petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), NLRB press secretary Kayla Blado confirmed to The Verge. Workers also staged a “lunchtime walkout” in an attempt to get Amazon to recognize the union, according to a report from CNBC.
The Amazon Labor Union (ALU) has been organizing a union at four Staten Island warehouse locations. It initially filed for a union election on October 25th and collected over 2,000 employee signatures in support. However, as reported by Bloomberg, it later withdrew its petition after it was determined that the group needed more signatures. US law dictates that union organizers need the support of at least 30 percent of workers — the four warehouses employ around 5,500 workers in total, according to Bloomberg. The New York Times reports organizers are focusing on a single warehouse this time, JFK8, to try and get support from enough people who are still employed despite high turnover.
Blado told The Verge that the ALU had finished filing the petition. Now, the NLRB will need to review the showing of interest to see if the group has collected enough signatures representing current employees to kickstart a union election. In addition to refiling the petition, the walkout today was “in protest of unfair labor practices committed by Amazon,” which the group says includes “illegal interference in union organizing activities.” The ALU is also asking for the return of hazard pay and unlimited unpaid time off in light of increasing COVID-19 cases.
Ex-Amazon employee Christian Smalls leads the ALU and was fired from the company after staging a walkout in protest of unsafe working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. If the NLRB gives the ALU’s petition the green light, it will lead to the second union drive for Amazon workers in 2021. In April, Amazon employees in Bessemer, Alabama, voted against unionizing, but the NLRB has since ordered a second election, as it decided there may have been some interference from Amazon during the initial vote.
“Our focus remains on listening directly to our employees and continuously improving on their behalf,” said Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel.
Update December 22nd, 7:20PM ET: Updated to add a statement from an Amazon spokesperson.